California: California officials declare statewide grid emergency due to continued heat wave

Sep 06, 2022 | Posted by MadalineDunn

California temperatures have soared to a record high, placing serious pressure on the power grid, and causing state officials to urge residents to limit their power usage. According to reports, the heat wave is most seriously affecting the Central Valley, which is projected to reach 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius) by midweek.

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) has requested that residents conserve energy by avoiding using major appliances and turning off lights. It is also recommending that  electrical car users avoid charging their vehicles during the Flex Alert period, claiming that that heat wave has driven up electricity demand to a breaking point. 

Speaking about the nature of the situation, in a recent news conference, Elliot Mainzer, president of the California grid, said that by Monday, the likelihood of “getting further into emergency conditions” would increase significantly, along with the chances of electrician service interruptions. This was echoed by Governor Gavin Newsom, who argued that the current situation reveals that “Mother Nature has outrun us.” Newsom added: “The reality is we’re living in an age of extremes - extreme heat, extreme drought.”

Unfortunately, this scenario of extreme heat, and its various repercussions appear to be something of a distressing new normal, and aside from the danger to health and the environment, it also increases the risk of power outages. According to Mainzer, rolling blackouts are indeed a possibility. Worryingly, the State's backup plan relies heavily on fossil fuels, too. Despite California aiming to be entirely green-powered by 2045, Newsom’s spending to support grid reliability will likely see more investment ($5.2 billion) in gas power plants and diesel generators, arguably only adding to the problem. 

Undeniably, the heat wave poses significant challenges to data centers, and as Steve Madara, vice president for thermal sales at Vertiv, outlines, the main one is maintaining reliability and connectivity. Madara continued: “Extreme weather events underscore the importance of a robust preventive maintenance and cleaning plan, tailored to the specific conditions of an operator’s region. Data center operators may need to be prepared for operating expense trade-offs to compensate for oversizing capacity. Partnering with a qualified data center services provider is important in order to create a maintenance and services plan that will meet the demands of today’s heat waves and tomorrow’s uncertain climate.” Madara argued that the industry needs to look toward regions in the Middle East, Africa and Australia for guidance around building data centers that are resilient to extreme heat and have efficient cooling systems that use minimal water supplies. 

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