California power grid survives eclipse

Aug. 22, 2017

Concerns had been raised about the effects of the eclipse on the power grid, particularly in California, which although not in the path of totality would see a significant though brief reduction in sunlight. But California’s grid survived just fine, according to David R. Baker at SFGATE.

“Shortly after 9 a.m., the state’s fast-multiplying solar farms were plunged into semi-darkness, just when they would normally be revving up,” he writes. “At the control center for California’s electricity grid in Folsom, display screens showed solar generation plummeting as the eclipse neared its midmorning peak. Electricity from hydroelectric dams and natural gas power plants surged to pick up the slack.”

He adds that in the wake of the eclipse, solar power rebounded.

He quotes Eric Schmitt, vice president of operations for the California Independent System Operator, “If there’s any doubt about how planning pays off, we demonstrated it this morning. We didn’t have any major challenges on the system, even minor challenges. We’re very pleased with how smoothly it went.”

Baker says preliminary numbers put lost peak capacity at roughly 3,000 to 3,500 MW.

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