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Heat wave: expert weighs in on California power grid strain and possibility of annual blackouts

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) — It was the year 2000 when blackouts first hit the Bay Area, in 2001 they spread across the state.

Since then, Ahmed Banafa, a lecturer at San Jose State’s Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, said he believes California has done everything possible to take care of the power grid.

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“I look at other states like Texas (and) if it’s cold, if it’s hot, they suffer from that because there’s a problem with their grid,” Banafa said, “We don’t we don’t have the same problems here, we are really aware of the problem.”

CA ISO has three stages of energy emergency alerts, stage one is stage three meaning controlled power outages are imminent or in progress.

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According to CA ISO, California has reached this level, once in 2000 and 38 times in 2001.

After 2001, the next time we saw the same type of alert was twice in 2020, as well as Tuesday.

Experts say that for the past two decades, California has led the nation in integrating solar and wind power sources to power the grid. But when these cleaner energy sources are not producing enough and demand is high, battery sources are used or, as a last resort, older sources that use fossil fuels.

Although experts say a lot has been done to ease the strain on the network, a big part of the problem is climate change.

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“For example,” Banafa said, “if you talk about some of the hydropower that uses water to generate power, it’s now a bit dry because of the dry weather.”

As the impacts of climate change continue, will strain on the state power grid and potential blackouts be something we experience every year?

Banafa says it depends on several factors.

“The solution has multiple parties that need to act before we can say we’re not going to face something like this, (we need) better resources for the network, so the network can continue to provide us with power. energy (and) best practices on our part,” Banafa said, “and also to face climate change as a reality.”

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