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California energy officials seeking additional capacity for the summer

In a letter Thursday, energy officials cited climate change-driven heat events in Cal ISO's decision to exercise its authority to procure additional capacity.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Citing climate change-driven heat events, California energy officials announced Thursday that the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), the operator of the state's power grid, would exercise its authority to procure additional capacity.  

"As a result of these unprecedented climate change-driven heat events, which are occurring throughout the West in combination with drought conditions that reduce hydroelectric capacity, California is using all available tools to increase electricity reliability this summer," officials said in a statement, signed by the president of the California Public Utility Commission, the California Energy Commission Chair and CAISO CEO. 

CAISO has used this authority before, most recently during last summer's regional heat waves. In August, CAISO declared a Stage 3 emergency and PG&E executed rotating power outages for the first time in nearly two decades. 

"This letter says that they are concerned that despite their efforts, there hasn’t been enough done," said Santa Clara University Associate Professor of Law and former CPUC commissioner Cathy Sandoval. 

"We hope that these additional efforts will bear fruit, but some of it is also going to require effort on our part and a hard look at policy and practices," Sandoval added.

Former CPUC President Loretta Lynch was more critical of CAISO's statement and practices, pointing out that other western states also experience the impacts of heat and drought but do not have the same issues with power as California.

"They are manufacturing an emergency because CAISO can only buy power in its own market under an emergency," Lynch said, warning that the costs will be passed down to the consumer. 

CAISO declined ABC10's request for comment on this story.

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