California blames blackouts on poor planning for extreme heat

(Reuters) - California energy officials on Tuesday said the state’s power planning processes were insufficient to address a crushing heat wave in August that led to rolling blackouts for two days.

In a preliminary analysis that was requested by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the heads of three state energy bodies said there was no single cause of the outages.

Rather, insufficient resources combined with extreme heat combined to produce “an extraordinary event,” they said in a letter to Newsom that accompanied the report.

The August blackouts that cut power to about 400,000 households prompted criticism, including from President Donald Trump, that California’s aggressive climate change policies were threatening grid reliability.

The state’s energy agencies have pushed back on that suggestion but said California needs to do more to accommodate the intermittent wind and solar resources that made up about 20% of power generated in the state last year.

In Tuesday’s report, the agencies recommended the state update planning targets to account for extreme events aggravated by climate change and expedite procurement of resources that can be online by next year, such as demand response programs that can pay energy users to curtail consumption.

It also said that power market practices could be improved to reflect the balance of supply and demand more accurately.

The California Independent System Operator, California Public Utilities Commission and California Energy Commission produced the joint report. It is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.

Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Aurora Ellis