Gov. Gavin Newsom says power outages 'very likely' through Wednesday, announces changes to COVID-19 watch list

Newsom signed an emergency order Monday morning to free up energy capacity amid record heat.
Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed the state's oppressive heat wave and revealed updates to the coronavirus county watch list in his Monday press conference.

The state's power grid is about 4,400 megawatts short of the energy needed to provide uninterrupted power service, Newsom said Monday. Despite several state actions to respond to the urgent shortage, Newsom said California will "very likely" experience intermittent outages through Wednesday evening.

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"Let me just make this crystal clear: We failed to predict and plan for these shortages and that is unacceptable," Newsom said.

Newsom announced he had signed an "emergency proclamation to free up energy capacity" and therefore reduce the need for rolling blackouts. The move allows "energy users and utilities to use backup energy sources to relieve pressure on the grid during peak times during the energy emergency," according to a press release.

HEAT WAVE: Record-breaking heat wave continues to grip SoCal this week, extends Flex Alert

Newsom called for an investigation into service disruptions that left people with little time to prepare. He sent a letter demanding that the state Energy Commission, state Public Utilities Commission and the California Independent System Operator investigate the blackouts.

"I am not pleased with what's happened," he said. "You shouldn't be pleased with the moment that we're in here in the state of California."

Cal ISO - the operator of California's power grid - warned of more outages, initially estimating more than 3 million homes could have been affected Monday by rolling outages.

By 8 p.m., Cal ISO thanked people for conserving and lifted the Stage 2 emergency declaration.

A Flex Alert remains in place, and people are urged to continue to conserve.

Since Friday, the governor said the state has taken the following actions to reduce energy usage:
  1. Newsom signed an "emergency proclamation to free up energy capacity" and therefore reduce the need for rolling blackouts. The move allows "energy users and utilities to use backup energy sources to relieve pressure on the grid during peak times during the energy emergency."

  2. Large energy users are shifting to back-up power between peak hours of 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.

  3. Utilities are going to use power they have stored for PSPS

  4. Working with ports to reduce consumption from the grid while ships are at port


  5. Working with major consumers to reduce energy usage


The governor also announced the COVID-19 watch list was finally unfrozen after a weeks-long data backlog.

Five counties have been added to the list since July 25, when the data glitch prompted the list to be frozen: Amador, Calaveras, Inyo, Mendocino and Sierra counties.

Santa Cruz county was removed from the list on Aug. 14. Newsom added that San Diego County is also expected to be removed from the list as soon as Tuesday.

RELATED: Coronavirus watch list: California counties where COVID-19 is getting worse

As of Monday morning, California has 621,562 known COVID-19 cases and has seen 11,224 deaths.
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