xHgGrtG-show-poster2x3-aXpIxNN.png

Artbound

Start watching
Tending Nature poster 2021

Tending Nature

Start watching
IYhnPQZ-show-poster2x3-Ytk6YwX.png

Southland Sessions

Start watching
RYQ2PZQ-show-poster2x3-OGargou.jpg

Earth Focus

Start watching
5LQmQJY-show-poster2x3-MRWBpAK.jpg

Reporter Roundup

Start watching
E5VnHdZ-show-poster2x3-PrXshoo.png

City Rising

Start watching
QraE2nW-show-poster2x3-uY3aHve.jpg

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement and Special Events teams.

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.

Support Provided By
Support Provided By
Read More
un mazo de juez de madera

Justicia retrasada: tribunales abrumados por el atraso de la pandemia

Desde la manutención de los hijos hasta el fraude de seguros, los casos judiciales se retrasan en todo California. Solo la mitad de los casos civiles y penales se resolvieron el verano pasado en comparación con las cifras anteriores a la pandemia. “La justicia no se ha cerrado. La justicia se ha ralentizado”, según un grupo de abogados.
A gavel on a table

Justice Delayed: Courts Overwhelmed by Pandemic Backlog

From child support to insurance fraud, court cases are delayed throughout California. Only half as many civil and criminal cases were resolved last summer compared with pre-pandemic numbers. “Justice has not shut down. Justice has slowed down,” according to an attorneys’ group.
People pull up in their vehicles for Covid-19 vaccines in the parking lot of The Forum in Inglewood, California on January 19, 2021. | FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

L.A. County Expands COVID Vaccines to Residents 65 And Older

L.A. County began scheduling COVID-19 vaccination appointments for those aged 65 and older today, but limited supplies and uncertainty about future allocations has left the inoculation effort shrouded in doubt.