What is a Rolling Blackout?

California faced over 5,000 wildfires from January through August of 2020. The fires affected approximately 100,000 acres of land across the state and fueled extreme temperatures--the subsequent heat wave caused utility companies across the state to impose rolling blackouts that disrupted power to up to 250,000 customers. But what exactly is a rolling blackout? And how do they affect your home?

What causes rolling blackouts?

Rolling blackouts occur when a utility company decides to cut power to high-risk areas during prime wildfire conditions. The purpose of the rolling blackout is typically to prevent the risk of fire to areas of the electrical system facing extreme temperatures, high winds, and excessive dryness.

Why did California have rolling blackouts?

The last major energy crisis in California took place in 2001 when manipulative energy trading by Enron and other corporations caused statewide blackouts.

This year, the blackouts were caused by poor planning, inaccurate record keeping, and an unfortunate combination of a global pandemic and a heatwave. Utility companies had expected to get a certain amount of energy from renewable resources such as hydroelectric plants, but failed to take into consideration how the extreme temperatures would affect water levels at many dams. There were also issues with the accuracy of records detailing how much energy was being produced at various plants.

Can I prevent power blackouts?

Ther are many ways to reduce your energy consumption in your home when a heatwave or other high-risk conditions exist, but the best way to prevent your home from being affected by blackouts is to become energy independent.


Installing solar panels allows you to harness energy from the sun to power your home--when paired with an energy storage system (AKA a backup battery) you’ll have the ability to store any excess energy your panels create to be drawn from when you need it most. If you’re interested in learning how energy independence can work for your home, contact HES Solar online or by phone at (619) 350-0032.
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