Surging Power And Searing Heat Maxing Grid

Todd Moses
July 2, 2024

Authorities are warning of extreme health and wildfire risks across California this week.

Inputs that matter: "This is just a long-duration heat event that will provide little to no overnight [temperature] relief," said Antoinette Serrato, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Hanford, Calif.

  • She said that the heat wave is expected to bring dangerous temperatures through the Fourth of July holiday and into early next week in many areas, particularly across Northern California, the Central Valley, and southwestern deserts.
  • "This will be a statewide heat event, and it may last quite a long time — beginning July 1 and perhaps not meaningfully receding until July 8 [or] 9 (or even later in some spots)," UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain wrote in a blog post-Sunday.

The opportunity: Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the state's largest utility, announced that power cuts were likely for Tuesday and Wednesday in some Northern California counties "due to high winds and dry conditions," part of its safety shutoff program that aims to reduce the chance for accidental fire ignitions.

  • "Right now, it has the potential to affect 12,000 customers in eight counties and two tribal areas," said Denny Boyles, a PG&E spokesperson.
  • "A combination of strong wind, low relative humidity, and hot temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior," the National Weather Service wrote in its red flag warning for the Sacramento Valley and North Bay interior mountains, lasting from Monday night through Wednesday.

Zoom in: The state of Texas plans to double a state fund for expanding the power grid, as electricity demand is expected to nearly double over the next six years.

  • Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced Monday that the state will seek to boost the Texas Energy Fund from $5 billion to $10 billion.
  • The announcement comes soon after a new prediction by the state's primary grid operator that said electricity needs will surge in the coming years.
  • The Electric Reliability Council of Texas estimated that by 2030, the state's main power grid would have to supply nearly double the current amount of power.

Between the lines: If we continue on our current course, energy demand in the U.S. will exceed supply in just a few years.

  • Grid operators, including PJM, the nation's largest, began sounding the alarm more than a year ago.
  • Meanwhile, the Clean Power Plan 2.0 requires existing coal-fired and new baseload natural gas-fired power plants to eliminate virtually all carbon emissions by 2032.
  • If a plant cannot comply with these requirements, it must shut down.

Follow the money: In Europe, Siemens Energy plans to recruit more than 10,000 employees as it invests 1.2 billion euros ($1.29 billion) in its electricity grid business over the next six years amid a surge in demand for power, a company executive said on Tuesday.

  • "In the next 15 years, we will see global investments in the grid as large as those made in the last 150 years," said Tim Holt, head of Grid Technologies.
  • "We want to participate in this boom," he said.

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