In mid-August, just before dry lightning storms ignited a series of fires that would break records in California, an intense heatwave resulted in rolling blackouts on two consecutive days. The trouble came in the evening, when solar generation drops off, leading some to claim this was the consequence of relying on renewable electricity. But it’s not that simple, as the outages could have been avoided. A new “preliminary root cause analysis” report from two state commissions and the California Independent System Operator that runs the grid presents a clearer picture of what went wrong.
The rolling outages affected a few hundred thousand people starting around 6:30pm on both August 14 and 15. They were actually the result of the grid’s rules: once the remaining reserve generation