California’s Grid Withstood the Heat Wave With Texts, Batteries and Conservation

September 2022


Severin Borenstein, Faculty Director, discusses California’s electrical grid and energy conservation phone alerts on Marketplace.

“In the last few years, California has brought on 4,000 megawatts of batteries. And it’s critical because California relies quite a bit on solar power these days. And of course, as the sun is setting, it produces less power. And then when it goes down, it produces no power. And we need something to fill in. And that’s where the batteries come in. They charge in the middle of the day when we are awash in solar power, and they discharge later in the afternoon when the solar is starting to wane and help fill in that difference. On the other side, we had a tremendous response on the demand side. When things got super tight, the governor put out an alert over cellphones saying that the grid was running very short of power, and please reduce consumption right away. Almost immediately, we dropped about 1,000 megawatts out of the 50,000-megawatt load within about five minutes.”