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California may avoid summer blackouts as Gov. Gavin Newsom praises increased battery shortage

Ari Plachta and Maggie Angst, The Fresno Bee on

Published in News & Features

RICHMOND, Calif. — The threat of power shutoffs on hot California days is likely to be kept at bay thanks in large part to thousands of new megawatts of battery storage being added to the electricity grid this year, according to the latest state energy data.

But long-term grid capacity challenges remain.

An increase in battery storage has allowed the state to collect excess power during times of low demand and discharge it on demand. Winter rains also boosted hydropower at dams this year, prompting officials to anticipate a power surplus this summer.

The projection will come as a relief to Californians who experienced threats of blackouts during last summer’s heat wave, which highlighted grid vulnerabilities as the state shifts to using more renewable power and prioritizes widespread electrification of cars, trucks and buildings.

It’s that interplay between short-term reliability and long-run clean energy goals that Gov. Gavin Newsom sought to address Thursday during a news conference at the Contra Costa County headquarters of Moxion Power Co., a manufacturer of clean, mobile energy storage technology.

In Richmond, Newsom announced the release of a state roadmap to achieve its clean energy goals — drastically increasing grid capacity and cutting out fossil fuels.


“We’re moving away from aspiration to application and implementation,” Newsom said.

Part of that strategy is a plan unveiled by the governor last week to expedite the clean energy infrastructure projects across California

“We need to build. We need to get things done. This is not an ideological exercise,” Newsom said Thursday. “We’re running against time.”

Battery storage capacity has increased rapidly in the last few years, according to new data from the state Energy Commission, growing to more than 5,000 megawatts this year from 250 megawatts in 2019.


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