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Renewable Energy Still A Power Lightweight In Calif. On Hot Summer Days

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Steve Large Steve Large
Steve anchors the news on CBS13 on the weekends and reports during the...
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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – California is trying to lead the way in renewable energy use, but the amount of green energy used on hot summer days may be much less than you think.

We went into the nerve center of California’s energy grid to see where it all happens. It’s kind of like air traffic control for California, only for energy. They track — especially on hot days — is how much green energy is going into things like keeping the air conditioning running.

Four o’clock in the afternoon is a busy time for California’s power grid.

“We’re going into the air conditioning rush hour in California,” said Stephanie McCorkle, Cal ISO spokesperson.

At 103 degrees in Sacramento the temperature is peaking, but real-time Cal ISO charts show solar power intake suddenly sinking.

“It’s reached its high point and it’s going to start coming down slowly,” said McCorkle.

Fires may be part of the reason as they block the sunshine.

“Because it doesn’t matter if its clouds or smog or smoke, its particulate matter,” said McCorkle.

Green energy on the whole is giving California ratepayers just a small fraction of their total energy needs right now.

At 4 p.m., the energy being used is geothermal, wind, solar, hydro, biomass and biograss — all part of the green power movement. But those green sources only satisfy 8 percent of energy demands across the state.

“One of the things is California has this diverse, beautiful landscape. And so that’s why we’re so renewable-rich,” said McCorkle.

California policy requires energy providers to generate an average of 20 percent of their energy from renewables for the entire year.

“There’s been some gentle fluctuations in power for as long as there’s been green power,” said McCorkle.

Thursday’s 4 p.m. snap shot may not have put solar in the right light.

Last week the California energy grid broke a new solar generation peak level record that had been set three days earlier.

It is the future, but renewables just aren’t sustaining California’s energy demands right now.

Thursday was not a record breaker for solar. That 1,000-megawatt milestone still was not reached, but it likely will be hit before summer is out.

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