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‘We’re worried’: CA power officials warn extreme heat could bring blackouts this summer

California energy officials are warning the state will likely have an energy shortage that could result in rolling blackouts this summer.

As drought, extreme heat and wildfires challenge California's energy reliability, projections show a potential shortage of 1,700 megawatts of power statewide – the equivalent of power to 1.3 million homes. Officials said it would happen during times of highest demand, which are typically in the hottest months when air conditioners are in full use.

Alice Reynolds, president of California Public Utilities Commission, said despite preparations to avoid blackouts, climate change is the curve ball – and people should be ready to conserve.

"We're worried, we're very humble about what might happen," Reynolds said. "We're really analyzing what the worst case could be and we're trying to make sure we do everything we can to be prepared."

In August 2020, dangerous heat prompted two consecutive nights of rolling blackouts during a massive heatwave.

In July 2021, the state narrowly avoided more blackouts during temperatures of more than 110 degrees.

Southern California Edison officials said they are more prepared now than they were then. They said they "believe power shutoffs are unlikely this summer."

"What's different now compared to last summer and the summer before is the addition of more battery storage in the grid," said SCE spokesman Jeff Monford. "SCE prioritizes putting the storage where we have the most vulnerability to rolling power outages."

An Imperial Irrigation District spokesman said last August, energy demand reached an all-time historical peak. Projections for this summer are on track for the same.

"Although IID is prepared to meet our summer energy load demand, there can be times when supply margins are tight," said IID General Manager Henry Martinez.

SCE is having an informational online livestream Thursday about Public Safety Power Shutoffs. Click here to learn more.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.


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