Shedding Light on Electricity Blackouts, with Severin Borenstein

February 2021

Resources for the Future Podcast

Severin Borenstein, Faculty Director of the Energy Institute, discusses with the Resources for the Future Podcast the recent electricity blackouts in California – and now in Texas. While they both share different systems, recent blackouts emphasize the need for more accountability on behalf of power suppliers to secure resource sufficiency.

“One of the things that is happening—and we’ve seen this both in California, where we had an unprecedented heat wave, and in Texas, where we’re seeing an extreme cold—is that more extreme weather is creating larger problems in the system supplying the electricity. As we’ve seen both in California and Texas—not just on the demand side, but also on the supply side—[weather has] created this imbalance, and as a result, [has led to] controlled, rolling outages…We have to make a distinction between intermittency that is unpredictable ups and downs in renewables, and [intermittency prompted by] timing, which is that we know when the sun is going to set … Neither of those are problems that can’t be managed, but I think the state has not been precise enough about managing the timing of the sunset and resources we’ll need … This in no way suggests you can’t run a system with a large share of renewables, but it does suggest that you have to plan for it in a very granular way.”

Read more on the Electricity Blackouts on CapRadio