This is a critical issue:
The power outage that swept across a large swathe of the American south-west on September 8th was the region’s worst cascading blackout in 15 years. It started at the North Gila substation near Yuma, Arizona, where a utility employee “was doing some work” on faulty equipment. Something happened (still under investigation) to cause the substation to shut down, disconnecting a 500kV transmission line connected to it and disrupting the electricity supply to Yuma’s 90,000 residents.
The immediate power shortage at Yuma caused the current—which normally flows along the grid’s key Southwest Power Link from Arizona to California—suddenly to reverse its direction. The result was a violent fluctuation in line voltage that fed back through the grid to trip switches at substations throughout the San Diego area. Altogether, some 15 power stations in the region shut down automatically to protect themselves from voltage swings—the biggest being the 2,200MW San Onofre nuclear power plant up the coast near San Clemente.
With the San Onofre plant disconnected and the umbilical cord from Arizona effectively severed, the delicately balanced grid serving San Diego and its adjacent counties quickly became unstable. Such problems would normally be resolved by ratcheting up the output of surrounding power stations. But with so little base-load capacity in the area, standby plants for meeting peak demand could not be spun up fast enough to stabilise the voltage. The overloaded grid promptly crashed, causing blackouts to spread across the region and into Mexico. The lights did not come back on until the following morning.
The wind was blowing at only 8mph and the sky was partially overcast. So, California’s lauded sources of renewable energy were of little help. If anything, they were part of the problem. Critics point out, with some justification, that California’s energy strategy of focusing on conservation and expanding intermittent sources of renewable energy—while ignoring the urgent need for more base-load generating capacity close to big cities—was the primary cause of the grid failure.
Entire article here.
Less money for TSA’s security theatre and more money to “harden” the electric grid would be a giant step in the right direction.
Next, lets stop the “magic thinking” regarding renewable energy and build the modern (and less polluting than earlier versions) generating plants we need.