In California, meeting demand for electricity must be achieved two ways:
- enough energy generated to meet the needs of all the utility customers
- enough electricity generated to meet the needs of all of the utility customers at a given time of day
California’s total demand for electricity is growing. The chart below comes from a recent forecast by the California Energy Commission:
But that only tells part of the story. The need to have enough generation for every moment of the day is also complicated by demand for electricity to run businesses and homes during the day. On a hot day in the afternoon the demand for electricity may be so high that it could cause brownouts or blackouts – which is particularly dangerous for people who are not in the best of health or elderly people, who cannot tolerate the heat and rely on air conditioning.
The chart below, from the California Integrated System Operator shows the total amount of electricity available on August 22, 2006 – it was an extremely hot day. The green line shows the total electricity production that day for each hour of the day. The red line show the total electricity demand that day for each hour of the day. If a generator or power line had a problem that day, some parts of California would have experienced a power outage. Solar provides electricity during those peak hours of the day – when the red line gets closest to the green line!
Finally, the trend is for more people who live in California to live in the hotter areas of the state. So it is very important to make sure that all homes and businesses are energy efficient AND use solar energy to reduce the amount of energy they need. The graph below shows the trends where people are moving to live in California.
Bottom line: every individual Californian can help California meet its demands for energy by being energy efficient and by using solar energy!