The entire Los Angeles metropolitan area and most of Southern California can expect blackouts this summer.
The power grid is under direct threat as a result of the unprecedented, but little reported, massive natural gas leaks at Alisco Canyon that was ongoing for four months as an intense summer heat wave sets in.
According to Reuters:
California will have its first test of plans to keep the lights on this summer…
With record-setting heat and air conditioning demand expected in Southern California, the state’s power grid operator issued a so-called “flex alert,” urging consumers to conserve energy to help prevent rotating power outages – which could occur regardless.
Electricity demand is expected to rise during the unseasonable heatwave on Monday and Tuesday, with forecast system-wide use expected to top 45,000 megawatts, said the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages electricity flow through the state. That compares with a peak demand of 47,358 MW last year and the all-time high of 50,270 MW set in July 2006.
That could put stress on the power grid, particularly with the shut-in of Aliso Canyon, following a massive leak at the underground storage facility in October [Editor’s Note: which was not stopped fully until mid-February 2016].
The large-scale natural gas disaster – which curiously escaped media frenzy and widespread environmental concern – has resulted in the shutdown of key storage facilities that supply most of the power for the southern portion of the state.
As summer demand for electricity to cool homes and businesses kicks into high gear, power plants are planning to shut down, with supply shortages triggering controlled blackouts and brownouts.
Reports say that “all customers” should expect to be without power a total 14 days – 2 weeks time – out of this summer. Some 21 million Californians stand to be directly affected:
All customers, including homes, hospitals, oil refineries and airports are at risk of losing power at some point this summer because a majority of electric generating stations in California use gas as their primary fuel. In April, millions of electric customers in Southern California were warned they could suffer power outages on up to 14 days this summer due to the closure.
Unlike some other gas transmission systems that can store large amounts of so-called linepack gas in pipelines, like PG&E Corp in northern California, SoCalGas cannot function with only pipeline or storage supplies.
Planned rolling brownouts have been done on a regular basis in Southern California since the days of Enron and the California energy crisis of 200o-2001, but the situation is getting more dire.
As demand spikes, customers can expect to pay more for electricity, even as supplies threaten to be cut off, leaving families, residents and businesses in the dark.
All this, as California’s historic drought problems continue to plague the state and restrict available services.
As Tess Pennington notes:
This puts stress of the other electrical grids who then compensate for the loss of energy to that existing grid. When these events take place, there is an overwhelming increase of power in homes and commerce to either generate heat, air conditioning or electricity. When this need overwhelms the grid, the utility company intentionally “shuts off the power to an area in order to reduce the load on an electricity generation and grid. The utility company turns it back on, and then shuts the power off in a different area, with outages in any given area typically lasting 60 to 90 minutes, according to the California Energy Commission. This is a last resort measure of utility companies to avoid an even worse situation — a total power blackout.
Of course, there is plenty of room for unplanned blackouts as well, as an increasingly vulnerable power grid nears the perfect conditions for a grid down scenario.
In the worst case scenario, these massive power outages, particularly if they are sustained for longer periods (authorities estimate up to 2 weeks without electricity is likely, though not necessarily in consecutive days), could interrupt other vital services – including grocery deliveries, water, gasoline at the pumps, and even communications.
The larger question is whether or not they want the grid to fail.
It is simple economic fact that the power companies stand to make more money of a power shortages during a crisis than they do during abundant and cheap energy.
Homeland Security and other government agencies have been preparing in secret for a grid disaster for several years now
Former DHS secretary Janet Napolitano ominously warned ahead of the Grid Ex II multi-agency drill that an unprecedented collapse of the power grid is imminent, and could result from a cyber attack, an EMP or a massive natural disaster:
The outgoing Homeland Security Secretary has a warning for her successor: A massive and “serious” cyber attack on the U.S. homeland is coming, and a natural disaster — the likes of which the nation has never seen — is also likely on its way.
An electrical grid joint drill simulation is being planned in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Thousands of utility workers, FBI agents, anti-terrorism experts, governmental agencies, and more than 150 private businesses are involved in the November power grid drill.
If the power grid fails, a lack of electricity and food delivery are only the first wave of troubles facing the American people. Police could face major problems with civil unrest. Of course, there also would not be any electric heating or cooling, which easily could lead to many deaths depending on the season.
It seems that it is a matter of when, not if.
That’s why having an off-grid, alternative source of energy is essential for any prepper or level-headed individual, though many communities are now discouraging solar by requiring that it be connected to the grid and regulated by energy companies.
At a minimum, with an admitted potential for two weeks with the light out, you should have a one month supply of food for your family, as well as basic emergency supplies (including candles, flashlights, batteries and other light sources).
It is also prudent to:
- Follow energy conservation measures to keep the use of electricity as low as possible, which can help power companies avoid imposing rolling blackouts.
- Look into alternative power sources to supply your home with power.
- Have ways to prepare food off the grid.
- Keep your car tank at least half full because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
- Be aware that most medication that requires refrigeration can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem. If unsure, check with your physician or pharmacist.
- Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it. Garage doors can be heavy, so know that you may need help to lift it.
- Keep a key to your house with you if you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home, in case the garage door will not open.
- Have money on hand in case stores are not processing credit cards.
(Among other good ideas. Read more about preparing for grid down scenarios How to Outlive an EMP the Early Pioneer Way)
This isn’t just planning for the possible, this is planning for the inevitable, and even the California authorities admit it.