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Southern California Prepares for Electricity Blackouts

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News brief by Max Havins
April 16, 2012


LOS ANGELES — There is new concern about potential rolling blackouts in Southern California this summer, and with it an increased need for home energy efficiency and solar power.

San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange counties face the possibility that electricity demand during a heat wave will exceed available supply on the grid.

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) went offline in January and remains out of service while officials investigate “unexpected wear” that led to a small radioactive steam leak. The situation at SONGS prompted a visit from Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko, U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein, and U.S. Representative Darrell Issa earlier this month.

SONGS is a major player in terms of energy supply, capable of producing enough electricity to power 1.4 million homes. Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric (who co-own the facility, along with the City of Riverside) are looking for ways to deal with that potential void this summer. Those plans will likely involve reviving two retired natural gas power plants in Huntington Beach, as well as reducing stress on the grid with renewable resources and energy conservation.

With some 8,500 solar projects installed throughout San Diego and Los Angeles, the sun may help meet peak energy needs. GreentechMedia featured an article recently describing the opportunities and challenges in leveraging the region’s solar strengths to meet demand this summer.

Energy efficiency and demand response measures will also play a critical role, should SONGS remain offline this summer. Both Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric are looking to expand existing energy conservation programs to reduce electricity demands this summer.

Check back for more from Sierra Club Green Home on what consumers in Southern California can do to help keep the lights on this summer.

For related article, see:
A Sustainable Home in Ten Steps

© 2012 SCGH, LLC.

4 Responses to “Southern California Prepares for Electricity Blackouts”

  1. Park Says:

    First of all, the conversion is chcmaeil to electricity, as in the chemistry of a car battery which provides an output voltage.To meet your needs, you need to figure how much useful sunlight you will have per day. Such sources as the Weather Channel, or National Climatology office can supply that to you. You need to determine the total load. Just add everything up, and that is the load you need to have sufficient energy to provide power for. If this works out to be, let’s say 200 watts, then you need at least a 200 watt solar panel, provided that you have enough sunlight from the time that you get up in the morning, until you go to bed at night. Count on it, you won’t have enough sunlight for your needs, unless you live up in Alaska. Even then, there is part of the year where there will not be enough light at any time of the day. What you need, for full 24 hour coverage is a battery bank, and unless everything will run on 12 or 24 volts, then you need 1 or more inverters. With inverters, you lose 10% in conversion loss from DC to AC. Batteries should be RV, Trolling motor, or best yet, electric fork lift batteries, or the reasonable equivalent of such as these. I would recomment at least double to quadruple the total energy need for the solar panels, and to multiply the battery capacity by the total load supply that you have figured out, for at least a 24 hour run time. All of that, then multiplied by 90% to know how long the system will provide power, IF you use any DC to AC inverters. Within reason, the larger the battery bank, the better. Do NOT use regular car batteries, they will not last as long as you need them to last, unless you understand the difference between cranking amps, and reserve amps. Another point is that auto batteries are simply not designed for this kind of service.

  2. Didier Says:

    I have this project in sneccie and I need to make a model that will use renewable energy , it’s easy to make , and it actually works.The model has to median not too big and not too small.It’s also going to need a really good explanation because I’m going to have to demonstrate it in front of my class and it’s a big part of my grade. Thanks for the help!

  3. Janneth Says:

    Use a metallic paorlabic bowl to reflect the sunlight into an object that you place into the center. Should look like a satellite dish but instead of the feed horn in the middle, you place the object that you want to heat in the middle, that way most of the sunlight gets reflected into the object and absorbed.

  4. Lubov Says:

    Okay, I don’t think anyone’s taken this sseiourly yet, so How about, hydro-electric, geothermal steam, wind turbines, augmentative passive solar, such as water heating and daylighting (somwhat different then solar lighting, or skylighting, although skylights count.) Also let’s not forget rain harvesting, and gray-water usage.these save water, and energy from a treatment, billing, delivery standpoint.Now that I asnwered the name other part: challenges, what happens when there is no sun/wind/water-flowing, if you have all of these, it won’t happen that often, but when it does, are batteries a practical solution? Won’t they eventually wind up in land-fill off-gasing? If you only use one or two of the 3 majors, what about when any of those aren’t available? Availability is still a big concern, hopefully that will be the next stock-market bubble and drive a massive influx of green-products.The common challenges with non-renewables, rather than starting from an environmental standpoint, how about we start with what they’re called. NON-RENEWABLE, eventually we will run out. It’s theorized that we’ve found all oil on earth, and will start a downward turn on production by somtime in 2008 or 2009. Aside from that, there’s the obvious global warming issues.O hope this helps some.

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