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California heat, poor planning led to August power outages

The report also says California didn't properly plan for supplies to cover evening hours when solar power production fell.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Energy regulators are blaming blackouts last summer that affected hundreds of thousands of Californians on poor planning, electrical market problems and a heat wave that blanketed the West. 

Wednesday's report — which was put together by the California Independent System Operator [CAISO], California Public Utilities Commission [CPUC], and California Energy Commission [CEC] — covered rotating blackouts on Aug. 14 and Aug. 15 that affected 800,000 homes and businesses. It says California was sweltering under a “historic" heat wave, and so were other Western states, making it harder to import extra electricity. The report says California also didn't properly plan for supplies to cover evening hours when solar power production fell.

“This Final Root Cause Analysis provides important insights and lessons learned about the factors that contributed to the rotating power outages of last summer,” CAISO President and CEO Elliot Mainzer said in the report. “As we prepare for summer 2021 and beyond, I look forward to working closely with the CPUC, CEC, policymakers and regional stakeholders to bring our planning, procurement and operational practices together into a modernized and well-integrated resource adequacy framework for California.”

Regulators say they're already planning how to avoid similar blackouts this coming summer.

California wasn't the only location dealing with record heat last year, too. Scientists say 2020 was either the hottest year on record or a close second or third. Several weather groups Thursday calculated that 2020 globally was extremely hot, but just how hot depended on who was measuring and how they were doing it. Some groups, including NASA, said it was the hottest year, while others including the U.S. and British weather agencies, said it was a close No. 2. Either way, they said the hottest six years on record have been the last six, and that Earth is clearly warming because of the burning of coal, oil and natural gas.


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