California Orders State of Emergency to Avert Blackouts

(Bloomberg) - California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency to free up energy supplies and accelerate the development of new power plants to help the state avoid power outages as it faces wildfires and debilitating heatwaves this summer.
The historic drought, intense heat and fires confronted the state with a forecast possible power failure of up to 3.5 gigawatts under extreme conditions in the late afternoon, according to the emergency declaration on Friday.
California is struggling to keep its electricity grid running as it aggressively turns away from fossil fuels and climate change makes heat waves tougher. The demand for air conditioning is increasing, as the historical drought of the state has depleted the reservoirs needed for hydropower.
The latest guideline is designed to "maintain the flow of electricity during a summer and fall that gets hotter and drier," said Marybel Batjer, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, during a conference call to discuss the arrangement with reporters on Friday.
The contract creates a new temporary program that will pay industrial customers to reduce demand by switching to backup generation in the event of bottlenecks. In addition, it dispenses with air quality rules that enable large consumers and ships to use diesel fuel as emergency power in emergencies this summer.
Newsom instructed state aviation authorities to mitigate the environmental impact of the emergency response.
The contract also streamlines approval and waives certain requirements for clean energy and storage projects. Newsom has called for similar contingency measures to enable additional power supplies in the event of heat waves.
On Thursday, state power grid regulation abruptly warned that the systems could potentially fail after unexpectedly losing 1.1 gigawatts of power generation. Last August, the state suffered its first power outages in nearly two decades after hot weather drove up electricity demand.
See also: California says power conditions improve after a grid warning
The California grid operator has been unable to secure enough additional supplies needed to make up for all of the forecast outages in the late summer afternoons when solar production subsides, Elliot Mainzer, chief executive officer of the California Independent System Operator, said during the call Reporters.
"It has become clear that we have entered a new normal and extraordinary measures are required," he said
(Updates with additional details continuously)
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