California Looks to Natural Gas to Keep Lights on This Winter

After years of restricting the growth of fossil fuel infrastructure, California is looking to natural gas for power generation this coming winter after drought and wildfires leave the state with few other options to keep the lights on.

California has spent years moving away from fossil fuels to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. But U.S. states like California and Texas have faced notable challenges to their electrical grid in recent months, and worldwide power crunches have forced other countries to ramp up output of coal and other fossil fuels to maintain power.

California’s Changing Climate Gives New Fuel to Fire Season

California’s changing climate has pushed fire season to new lengths, triggering once-rare winter blackouts. State utilities cut power to more than 72,000 homes and businesses Tuesday in a preemptive effort to prevent live wires from sparking wildfires as Santa Ana winds threaten to fan flames. Blazes are breaking out nonetheless, including in Santa Cruz County, where two fires are prompting evacuations.

California’s Power Supply Is Getting Greener. It’s Still Got Far To Go.

Over the past decade, California has become a globally acclaimed leader on renewable energy. Fueled by aggressive public policies, plummeting solar prices and evolving technology, the state has cut greenhouse gas emissions from its electric power supply in half since their 2008 peak, according to the California Air Resources Board.

“It’s really astounding how carbon dioxide emissions have been cut,” said Anthony Kovscek, chairman of the energy resources engineering department at Stanford University. “It’s been really remarkable how much renewable and solar we’ve been able to put on the grid and balance it.”