Why are there rolling blackouts in California? It has to do with the move to clean energy

Power lines are shown as California consumers prepare for more possible outages following weekend outages to reduce system strain during a brutal heat wave amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Carlsbad, California, U.S., August 17, 2020. Credit: REUTERS/Mike Blake.

California utilities are using rolling blackouts to deal with an energy shortage. They’re shutting off power when the grid is strained, like right now, when many people are at home pumping the air conditioning. The last time this happened was during an energy crisis nearly 20 years ago.

Now that it’s happening again, sometimes with little or no warning, political leaders are asking why. Governor Gavin Newsom ordered an investigation earlier this week after reports that the state’s transition to cleaner energy is partly to blame.

"We’re generating lots and lots of solar in the afternoon. And then when the sun goes down, that all goes away. It’s a challenge that the grid operator says we’re experiencing for the first time in a serious way right now,” LA Times energy reporter Sammy Roth tells KCRW.



  • Sammy Roth - energy reporter for the LA Times, author of the weekly “Boiling Point” newsletter on climate and the environment