Californians now fear a repeat of the rolling blackouts that occurred during the 2001 energy crisis.
Late last Friday, about two million Californians lost power over four hours, Bloomberg reported. The blackouts come as the state is set to deal with a heat wave expected to last until the middle of next week. The heat wave is anticipated to bring temperatures over 110 degrees, which Bloomberg reported would lead to increased strain on the power system as people need their air conditioners and fans more than usual.
The blackouts “started at about 6:30 p.m. local time on Friday, when California’s grid operator determined through a complex calculation that the state’s power reserves had fallen below a critical threshold and called a Stage 3 grid emergency, which triggers what it describes as ‘load interruption,’” Bloomberg reported.
“The last time such a declaration was made during the 2000 and 2001 electricity crisis, hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses took turns being plunged into darkness, power prices surged to a record and the state’s largest utility was forced into bankruptcy,” the outlet continued.
On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) official Twitter account warned about the heat wave and urged residents to conserve energy during the peak hours of between 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. The account urged residents to:
- Set thermostat at 78° or higher
- Use fans & close curtains
- Turn off unnecessary lights
- Use major appliances in off hours
Anna Gonzales, a spokeswoman for the state’s power grid manager, California Independent System Operator, told Bloomberg the state “had an energy shortfall.” The agency had to tell state utilities to decrease demand by 1,000 megawatts.
“That’s enough to power about 750,000 homes, by California ISO’s estimates, affecting well over 2 million people based on the average household size,” Bloomberg reported.
The latest struggles in the Golden State come as people continue to flee California at an alarming rate. While the total population of California has increased over the past decade, it is mostly due to international migration. In 2019, the state lost more than 200,000 residents due to domestic migration – meaning they left the state to move somewhere else in the United States. Now, there are many reasons for the move, but based on data from HIS Markit, one can be reasonably assured that a large percentage of the move comes from the high tax, high cost of living in liberal states such as California. The other four states that suffered the highest levels of domestic migration were Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, and New York. One can easily see what they all have in common.
San Francisco alone has seen a mass exodus recently, with real estate company Zillow finding that the housing market has increased 96% year-on-year, meaning more homes are on the market than anywhere else in the country, the San Francisco Gate reported. The exodus has come as the region’s tech workers have been allowed to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic and realized they could find much cheaper, more spacious homes away from San Francisco, where the median home price is $1.3 million.