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California electricity shortages coming this summer

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San Onofre nuclear plant. Credit: Wikimedia commons

California pretends to be a crunchy granola wonderland of renewable energy. The reality is the vast bulk of its power comes from natural gas and imported coal and hydro power, with electricity shortages almost certainly coming soon.

Idled nuclear plants and less hydroelectric power due to drought will create power shortages in throughout California this summer. Renewable energy can’t come anywhere close to making up the difference, which will have to come from natural gas.

Southern California will have the most problems because that’s where the closed San Onofre nuclear plant is. In addition, snow pack in the Sierras, a key predictor of hydro power is 45-50% of normal and imported hydro from the Columbia River will also be substantially lower.

The California Independent System Operator Corp. said last month that managing the state grid, especially in parts of Southern California, will prove “difficult” because the system will be operating without Edison International’s San Onofre nuclear power plant and two natural gas-fired units, while hydroelectric output will be at a three-year low.

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