Should We Be Worried About Blackouts During This Weekend’s Heatwave?


Air quality officials voted this week to allow DWP to skirt pollution regulations and burn diesel fuel at several Southern California power plants. Normally the plants run on natural gas, but because of the disastrous blowout at SoCal Gas’s Aliso Canyon storage facility, supply might fall short during summer, when demand for power is typically highest.

We generally get it lucky on the coast with Summer temps, but this weekend is going to be off the charts crazy! On Sunday, just in time for Father’s Day, we’re shooting up into the 90’s!

Are we looking at rolling blackouts? LADWP says no because it has a backup plan, but at what cost?

LADWP has been given special permission to burn diesel fuel to run several of its power plants due to extra low natural gas supplies resulting from the Aliso Canyon fiasco earlier this year, but burning diesel fuel has big consequences for our air quality. For this reason, DWP is supposed to use diesel as a last resort.

On the flip side, the pollution produced by burning diesel to fuel power plants is said to be less than diesel pollution produced by backup generators that hospitals, police stations and businesses would run in the event of a blackout.

To discourage DWP from opting for the diesel burning solution, hefty environmental fees have been attached. Hardly a disincentive, I’d say, when DWP is so comfortable passing through extra costs to its customers. 😉

So, probably no blackouts this weekend, but are we trading temporary comfort for long term consequences air quality? Is this a smart trade-off?

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