Gas and Power Grid Link Means L.A. Could Be Gigawatts Short This Summer

Simulations show the potential for wider problems, because of natural gas dependence and poor understanding of feedback effects between the two systems

4 min read
Gas and Power Grid Link Means L.A. Could Be Gigawatts Short This Summer
Photo: Environmental Defense Fund

A Potent Plume: An infrared camera spotted the greenhouse gas methane pouring from California’s Aliso Canyon storage site last year. Video: Environmental Defense Fund

Grid operators in Southern California are on edge in the aftermath of a massive leak from Aliso Canyon, the region’s largest natural-gas storage facility. With the storage field shuttered until further notice, inadequate supply to gas-fired power plants in the Los Angeles basin could force rolling blackouts this summer, which begins this month. These might affect “millions of utility customers” for up to 14 days, according to a joint report by state agencies and utilities.

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Practical Power Beaming Gets Real

A century later, Nikola Tesla’s dream comes true

8 min read
This nighttime outdoor image, with city lights in the background, shows a narrow beam of light shining on a circular receiver that is positioned on the top of a pole.

A power-beaming system developed by PowerLight Technologies conveyed hundreds of watts of power during a 2019 demonstration at the Port of Seattle.

PowerLight Technologies
Yellow

Wires have a lot going for them when it comes to moving electric power around, but they have their drawbacks too. Who, after all, hasn’t tired of having to plug in and unplug their phone and other rechargeable gizmos? It’s a nuisance.

Wires also challenge electric utilities: These companies must take pains to boost the voltage they apply to their transmission cables to very high values to avoid dissipating most of the power along the way. And when it comes to powering public transportation, including electric trains and trams, wires need to be used in tandem with rolling or sliding contacts, which are troublesome to maintain, can spark, and in some settings will generate problematic contaminants.

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