by Nicola Groom | Reuters
The Biden administration on Friday issued an emergency order allowing some natural gas power plants in California to operate without pollution restrictions to curtail the state’s electricity supply, the US Department of Energy said.
California’s grid operator, Independent System Operator, sought the order earlier this week in a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, asking it to supply additional power to be able to keep the lights on during extreme heat events. is required.
This was the second year in a row that California sought and received such an order from the federal government. Before last year, the state had not sought such relief since 2000, when it faced a power crisis tied to market manipulation by energy producers.
This year’s request was the latest move to shore up the state’s electricity grid as severe droughts have eroded hydroelectric potential and wildfires threaten transmission lines bringing electricity from neighboring states.
The order, which the agency posted online, allows six gas-fired power plants across the state to run at maximum output for 60 days till November 9. This is meant to provide an additional 200 megawatts, or enough, to the state’s power grid. Electricity to about 150,000 homes
The order, signed by Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk, “will meet the emergency and serve the public interest,” it said.
California has been forced to rely on fossil fuels to maintain grid reliability because its environmental policies require large amounts of wind and solar power that only runs when the wind blows or the sun shines.
Already this year Governor Gavin Newsom has eased restrictions on diesel generators and engines, while the state’s water agency is adding gas-fired power plants to boost supply.
A spokesman for the California Independent System Operator said the grid operator is reviewing the order. (Reporting by Nicola Groom; Editing by Chris Reese, Daniel Wallis and Cynthia Osterman)