Expert: 'Power Shortage' Threat Overblown in Southern California | KCET
Expert: 'Power Shortage' Threat Overblown in Southern California
Despite reports in the press that the continuing outage of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant will cause "Enron-style" power shortages throughout Southern California this summer, one expert on the electrical grid says such fears are exaggerated.
A report in Bloomberg News claims that the combination of the offline plant at San Onofre and a bleak forecast for hydroelectric generation in the state due to drought means that the state could face power shortages unrivaled since the Enron scandal in the early 2000s. In their story, Bloomberg reporters Naureen S. Malik and Lynn Doan quote Pennsylvania energy consultant Stephen Schork as saying "California may see the biggest test since Enron manipulated the market. If you have a reactor down and you don't have as much hydro, your fuel for air conditioning is going to have to come from gas."
Malik and Doan also spoke with Michael Blaha at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. in Houston, who credited hydro for fulling the gap as San Onofre stayed offline through the summer of 2012.
But according to engineer and frequent ReWire tipster Bill Powers, an expert on power generation and transmission issues, enough new gas-fired capacity in Southern California is scheduled to come online by the peak power consumption season this summer to nearly make up for San Onofre being offline even without any power from hydroelectric power plants. In the Los Angeles Basin load area alone, Powers tells ReWire, 1,900 megawatts of gas-fired plants are scheduled to come online in the first half of 2013. San Onofre's capacity? 2,150 megawatts.
Powers points out that it's not just him saying so: he directs our attention to a briefing document on San Onofre's downtime composed by the California Independent System Operator (CaISO), which runs the power grid for 80 percent of the state, including the Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric service areas, which are the portions of the grid most affected by San Onofre's outage.
According to CaISO, while there is room for concern about running low on power reserves as a result of San Onofre being down, the grid operator characterizes those concerns as applying mainly to San Diego County and southern Orange County rather than the entire southern section of the state. If this summer's heat hits a ten-year high, CaISO runs the chance of having to engage in "load shedding" -- a method of reducing demand more commonly known as rolling blackouts.
But, says CaISO, a combination of upgrading transmission lines near Long Beach, adding capacitors to regulate transmission line voltage, and increasing funding for the agency's Flex Alert program should address the reliability issues on the grid without needing to add more generation capacity over the summer.
And given that the state is likely to have a gigawatt or more of new solar power coming into the grid compared to last summer -- much of that in Southern California -- those peak demand hours may not be all that scary this year, even without San Onofre.
For ongoing environmental coverage in March 2017 and afterward, please visit our show Earth Focus, or browse Redefine for historic material.
KCET's award-winning environment news project Redefine ran from July 2012 through February 2017.
Los Angeles County elected and health officials today urged residents to heed curfew restrictions amid continuing protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, while also expressing concern about crowded demonstrations leading to a spike in coro
During a discussion today on the police protests occurring across the nation, Mayor Eric Garcetti said law enforcement departments must examine and improve the ways they recruit officers, how they train them and the oversight of officers.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said today she was "angry" and "pissed off" when she saw the video capturing the asphyxiation death of a black man in Minneapolis at the hands of a white police officer.
Another two cases of a rare inflammatory syndrome have been identified in patients at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, bringing the total to six, all of whom tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, it was announced today.
- 1 of 293
- next ›