Just a week after announcing it is banning the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035, California over the weekend told electric vehicle owners not to charge their cars. It comes as the Biden administration says the state is a model for the rest of the country.
The power grid emergency announcement said blackouts are possible if people don’t cut back enough on electricity usage amid hot weather. The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) issued a stage one emergency alert for the grid, starting at 5 p.m. Pacific Time and lasting four hours.
Stage one emergencies are issued when “all available resources are in use and CAISO will no longer [be] able to meet expected energy requirements,” according to the agency’s system operating procedures.
CAISO is forecasting usage Tuesday to set new records, Elliott Mainzer, president and CEO of the operator, told reporters in a briefing.
California has had flex alerts in place since Aug. 31 and residents are sacrificing by not using as much energy, officials said. But two to three times as much sacrifice is needed to avoid problems and all the wind and solar power available, or planned, won’t fix it.
If 2,000 to 3,000 megawatts aren’t cut back, the deficit will lead to a stage 2 emergency. If certain circumstances unfold, a stage 3 emergency could happen, according to Mainzer.
“The potential for rotating outages has increased significantly,” he said, adding later, “Blackouts—rotating outages—are a possibility today.”
The emergency directive couldn’t come at a more worse time for the Biden adminsitration.
“Yeah, I do, I think California really is leaning in,” Granholm said when asked if she supported California’s law. “And, of course, the federal government has a goal of — that the president has announced — by 2030, that half of the vehicles in the U.S., the new ones sold, would be electric.”
She also stated that California is “in the lead on energy” and “can show the rest of the nation how it is done.”
But the reality in the state is polar opposite. People are being asked to set their thermostats to 78 degrees Fahrenheit or higher after 4 p.m. They should also not use appliances such as ovens and washers, and should make sure to turn off lights in rooms in which they’re not located.
“We all can find a light in the house that we can turn off,” said Siva Gunda, commissioner of the California Energy Commission.
People who use less energy during the evening hours can be eligible for credits for their future energy bills.
Before 4 p.m., people were advised to “pre-cool” their homes, and use any appliances they may need. One recommended action was pre-cooking dinner.