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California ISO details rolling blackout prevention measures for this summer

The state's power grid operators say outages could still happen based on heat waves and demand.

CALIFORNIA, USA — The state's power grid operators, California Independent System Operator (ISO) said it cannot guarantee the state will avoid rolling blackouts this summer, but they are doing several things to try to prepare.  

California ISO officials met at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 26 for a 2021 Summer Readiness Update to detail some strategies for avoiding power outages when the heat kicks up. 

Officials talked about a major new push on communication and demand response. This includes regular updates on grid conditions and Heat Wave Bulletin, which will provide a 3-7 day window for forecasting extreme heat events. 

Flex Alert conservation times will also more generally fall in the time frame of 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. In 2020, that timeframe has been as long as 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. California ISO also announced that Flex Alert users will be able to see how people in their area are conserving energy. 

California's top energy regulators have said the state is better prepared to avoid last summer's rotating blackouts. However, they cautioned the power grid of the nation's most populous state is still vulnerable to extreme heat waves that could force more outages later this year.

There are two other key proposals that California ISO is putting into place to prevent rolling blackouts.

State officials say they have acquired an additional 3,500 megawatts of capacity this year. For perspective, one megawatt is enough to power hundreds of homes. However, there is no guarantee this will be enough capacity to meet demand once temperatures reach 100 degrees or higher.

California ISO is also gathering other resources to help ease stress on the power grid. 

One of these new resources is a 2,000 megawatts fleet of 4-hour lithium-ion batteries to help support during the net peak this summer. 

Officials say that demand response is a key element of their operational strategy to maintain overall bulk grid reliability during heat waves. 

Residents hoping for further information on what is being done to avoid rolling blackouts during the hottest months of summer can learn more at the Energy Storage Enhancements meeting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. 

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