California heat wave prompts electricity conservation

Posted: July 25, 2018

The Golden State may thrive on solar power, but a deficiency in baseload power supply has promoted necessary energy conservation this week.

On Monday, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) issued an alert to consumers to cut back on electricity usage on Tuesday and Wednesday, following a similar request from the Southern California Gas Co. According to CAISO, expected power demand on Tuesday was estimated to outstrip California’s available generating capacity by about 5,000 megawatts.

In January 2018, California approved the closure of its last operating nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, by 2025. The California Public Utilities Commission stated that the decision “moves California away from the era of nuclear power and toward the era of zero-carbon renewable energy.”

However, the opposite has proven to be true. Without San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, which closed in 2013, the state is forced to import about 20 percent of its power from out-of-state. Despite the pledge to source the state’s power from solar and wind, renewables obviously aren’t filling the gap.

The west coast heat wave is also expected to affect Phoenix, AZ, where a heat advisory has been issued for Monday, July 23 to Wednesday, July 25. Unlike California, the Arizona Public Service hasn’t issued an energy conservation request; instead, it announced that traders are monitoring the market and system conditions to ensure consumers have the power they need throughout the day.

It’s worth noting that the country’s largest nuclear power plant – and largest power plant – is Palo Verde, located in Tonopah, AZ, which produces 3,942 megawatts annually.

California’s nuclear power loss should be a warning to New York State. Without our nuclear fleet, New York will be at risk for severe power shortages and more frequent electricity conservation.