California is calling for backup. And it will pay handsomely — in cash, pollution and political capital.
Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency to avert blackouts over the next few months. A confluence of factors has exposed the vulnerabilities of the state’s grid, mostly centered on this summer’s unusually widespread hot and dry conditions. Hydropower reservoirs are low. Neighboring states may send less electricity California’s way. Customers with air-conditioning are cranking it up. Newsom warns there may be shortfalls of 3,500 megawatts during “extreme weather events” — on a roughly 50,000 megawatt-system — and maybe more next summer.