Energy officials admit poor planning led to rolling blackouts this summer


There is plenty of blame to go around for rolling blackouts that hit California homes and businesses in August.

Temperatures hit 110 in the Bay Area on Aug. 14 and 15, and the state quickly warned residents that the grid would be under serious strain and called for emergency conservation efforts.

But it still was not enough, and while the number of people impacted was far below the initial estimates, 800,000 energy customers lost power.

“We failed to predict and plan these shortages and that’s simply unacceptable,” said a furious Gov. Newsom.

A new 121-page report by the state’s Energy Commission, Independent System Operator and Public Utilities Commission backs up that analysis. While the immediate cause of the blackouts was the heatwave, the agencies have concluded that they failed to properly prepare for the demand that soaring temperatures would cause.

Gov. Newsom ordered the joint investigation to uncover the root cause of the issues, “and move forward to make sure this simply never happens again here in the state of California.”

The report says the agencies should have directed utility companies to buy supplies that would make up the difference in the grid in the evenings, when solar panels go offline. As gas-burning plants go offline as part of the state’s shift towards renewable energy, the state has not acted quickly enough to replace them with cleaner alternatives.

“The combination of these factors was an extraordinary event,” officials wrote in the report. “But it is our responsibility and intent to plan for such events, which are becoming increasingly common in a world rapidly being impacted by climate change.”