Air Conditioners are Primary Cause of California’s Electrical Supply Emergency. During peak power use air conditioners in Los Angeles and California’s Central Valley use 40 percent of our state’s electricity.
In sharp contrast, in California’s coastal communities like our Monterey Peninsula, air conditioners are essentially unknown. Indeed it is hard to find a store selling air conditioners here.
Below is an article HOPE wrote in 2001 :
As difficult as it may be to accept – all of us living in Monterey County, indeed all of us living in California, are laboring under an Electric Supply Emergency with no end in sight. The state government mandated local power blackouts we experienced the week of Jan 15, 2001 and which were front page news stories, are additional proof of its reality.
“[California] Governor Gray Davis signed an emergency order late Wednesday authorizing the state to buy power to fend off further blackouts.” Associated Press, Thurs. Jan 18, 2001
January 18, 2001 California Independent [Electrical] System Operators “declare an Electrical Emergency because of high demand and limited supplies.” They begin two hour rolling blackouts.
State regulators imposed afternoon outages in northern California and came close to ordering the first statewide blackouts since World War II.
California uses 30 gigawatts of electricity at peak winter 2001 demand. California uses as much as 50 gigawatts during the summer when air conditioners are turned on. It was during the lower 30 gigawatt period that Northern California experienced intentional blackouts.
Since the electric supply is at and beyond capacity any further increase in demand is a potentially significant environmental impact.
We Were Warned
August 18 1998 California’s Energy Commission analysis warns that the state could experience rolling blackouts as soon as Summer 1999 because of rising demand for electricity.
“Power Outages Feared”
July 14 1999 California Independent System Operator (Cal-ISO), which manages transmission for about 75 percent of California, reported that customers used a record breaking 45,884 megawatts of electricity. They issued a stage one emergency warning, which is when electricity operating reserves drops below 7 percent. A stage two is when the level drops below 5 percent. Below 5 percent reserve involuntary cuts to power would be likely according to Cal-ISO spokesman Patrick Dorinson.