California Has Enough Power For Summer Air Conditioning Demand

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May 8 California will have enough power to meet air conditioning demand this summer despite continued low hydro-power supplies due to an ongoing multi-year drought.

The California Independent System Operator (ISO), the power grid operator for most of the state, said in a statement released late Thursday that the grid will benefit from new generation, mostly solar, stable imports and moderate peak demand growth.

“It is always a challenge to operate the grid under the high loads produced by sweltering summer temperatures, but our analysis shows we have the resources available to meet California’s need this year,” ISO CEO Steve Berberich said in the statement.

“We will keep a close watch on the system, particularly in Southern California where fires, high demand and transmission congestion can cause concerns,” he said.

Although the drought is reducing hydroelectric availability to the lowest level in 10 years, the ISO said it will not have a material impact on grid reliability.

The ISO said hydropower this summer could be reduced by 1,511 megawatts under anticipated conditions, to 2,733 MW under extreme conditions.

Total generation capacity available from all resources is expected to be 54,322 MW, while peak demand this summer is projected to reach slightly over 47,000 MW.

Demand last summer peaked at 44,703 MW on September 15, while the all-time summer peak was 50,270 MW set on July 24, 2006.

Since last summer, the ISO said generators added 2,328 MW of new supply to the grid, with solar resources accounting for 96 percent of the interconnections.

Currently, about 6,700 MW of solar resources are connected to the grid, with about 6,100 MW of wind. In total, the grid has 16,300 MW of renewable resources, representing about 25 percent of total resources, the ISO said.

In addition, the ISO said it has identified about 1,840 MW that will be available to reduce power usage by customers via various programs if needed.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino)