Electricity-deprived California seeking emergency gas-fired gen-sets to meet summer demand

Oroville dam

California, in the midst of an energy crisis due to high temperatures, wildfires and drought, is seeking relief with the import of five 30-MW gas-fired emergency generators, according to multiple news sources.

 Bloomberg, California Energy Markets and others have reported that the California Department of Water Resources is procuring the gen-sets on a temporary basis. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared an energy state of emergency earlier.

The Newsom order seeks to expedite clean energy projects and other means of relieving demand on the state grid during extreme weather events. The Department of Water Resources move will procure the gas-fired gen-sets and deploy them at existing power plants, according to reports.

California has faced electricity supply shortages of up to 3.5 GW at various peak demand times during the summer. The state is the nation’s second-largest producer of hydroelectric power, but many hydro plants, such as Oroville (pictured in earlier times), have been decreased or taken offline during the lack of rainfall and low lake levels. Only two years ago, hydropower provided 19 percent of the California’s net electricity generation, more than twice the national average, according to federal statistics.

The California Energy Commission will post details about all temporary power generators approved during the emergency period, according to news reports. Earlier this summer, the state energy department predicted its energy shortage could be 2,000 MW (2 GW) this summer and 5 GW by September 2022.

California is a national leader in solar photovoltaic generation and energy storage, and fifth in wind. Utility-scale wind, however, usually entails length high-voltage transmission and distribution systems, and wildfires have highlighted the dangers of T&D systems in heavily forested areas.

The state’s renewable energy portfolio enacted years ago calls for 100 percent of electricity sales to come from renewables by 2045.

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