Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) reminded residents of the Golden State to reduce power consumption on Tuesday to avoid blackouts less than two months after he mocked Texas for similar problems.
In July, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas asked residents to cut power usage to prevent rolling blackouts, which officials did not need to implement as a result of residents and businesses voluntarily reducing consumption. Swalwell responded on social media with a jab at the state’s tighter abortion regulations: “Texas. Where Republicans provide plenty of energy to control your body, but no energy to control your thermostat.”
Texas. Where Republicans provide plenty of energy to control your body, but no energy to control your thermostat. https://t.co/J8drhYbVC7
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) July 11, 2022
On Tuesday evening, however, the California Independent System Operator narrowly averted imposing rolling blackouts, even though tens of thousands of residents experienced disruptions to their power supplies. Meanwhile, Swalwell amplified the agency’s call to avoid using major appliances and set thermostats to 78 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. “Let’s keep the lights on, California,” he said on social media.
It’s time to rally, California!
We all need to do our part to help avoid power outages this week.
Before 4pm, pre-cool your home. After 4pm, avoid use of major appliances and turn your thermostat to 78 or higher.
Let’s keep the lights on, California.
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) September 6, 2022
Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) also reminded citizens to cooperate with state authorities to prevent blackouts. “You’ve stepped up to help in a big way to keep the lights on so far. But we’re heading into the worst part of this heat wave,” he said in a video statement. “And the risk for outages is real and it’s immediate.”
CA is experiencing an unprecedented heatwave. This will be the hottest & longest on record for September.
Our energy grid is being pushed to its max. The risk of outages is real.
We need everyone to double down to save energy after 4pm today.pic.twitter.com/6QWozS0pyp
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) September 6, 2022
Indeed, the western United States is facing “dangerous heat” and a high risk of fires, according to a report from the National Weather Service. As a result, officials in California have issued several warnings and reminders urging residents to voluntarily decrease power usage during peak demand hours.
Among other measures, the state asked citizens last week to avoid “charging electric vehicles” — a request that raised eyebrows due to the announcement of an upcoming ban on new gas-powered cars released days earlier. The California Air Resources Board issued new rules requiring 35% of new vehicles to produce zero emissions by 2026 — a standard that will rise to a 68% benchmark by 2030 and a 100% benchmark by 2035.
The legislatures of Massachusetts, Washington, and Virginia have previously passed laws conforming their states to standards approved by the agency. However, Republican lawmakers in Virginia hope to repeal the laws approved by Democratic predecessors.
“In an effort to turn Virginia into California, liberal politicians who previously ran our government sold Virginia out by subjecting Virginia drivers to California vehicle laws,” Governor Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) wrote in a statement. “Now, under that pact, Virginians will be forced to adopt the California law that prohibits the sale of gas and diesel-fueled vehicles. I am already at work to prevent this ridiculous edict from being forced on Virginians. California’s out of touch laws have no place in our Commonwealth.”
Amid the power grid issues, California was prepared to shutter the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, which is responsible for 8% of overall energy and 17% of carbon-free energy in the state. After a warning from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and other officials, however, the California legislature voted to extend the facility’s life span by another five years.
California witnessed a round of blackouts during last year’s Labor Day weekend. The state issued alerts as grid operators predicted “an increase in electricity demand, primarily from air conditioning use” related to high temperatures.