California Public Utilities Commission Unveils

August 04, 2017 by Paul Shepard

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has unveiled with a call to Californians to Do Your Thing and reduce electricity use during The Great Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017.

On, consumers, businesses, organizations, and local governments can take a pledge to Do Your Thing by reducing electricity usage from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. during The Great Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017.

As previously-reported on PowerPulse, the path of totality will extend from South Carolina on the East Coast to Oregon on the West Coast. California's San Juaquin and Coachella valleys, both key solar producing regions, will see coverage of around 76% and 62%, respectively.

And, although it will be spared the full impact, California is planning for the potential of major disruptions in its grid as the production of electricity from photovoltaic installations falls from a normal level of over 8,700MW to 5,600MW while demand is rising by 1,300MW primarily due to the increased use of electric lights.

This advanced planning will allow California to burn fewer fossil fuels and emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions when California's solar energy production dips during the eclipse. The new website also offers tips to help reduce usage during the eclipse and year-round.

"We have plenty of wind, geothermal, hydro, and natural gas to make sure the grid runs smoothly during the solar eclipse, but we also have a lot of Californians who want to do their California thing and step in to help replace the sun when it takes a break," said CPUC President Michael Picker.

California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker

"When we come together to do one small thing to reduce energy usage, we can have a major impact on our environment. When Californians take the pledge on, they are joining a movement of people, businesses, organizations and local governments that are taking action during the eclipse to give the sun a break by saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions," Picker continued.

On Monday, August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will pass over the Pacific Northwest affecting the California solar resources supplying power to the grid. The eclipse is expected to occur from 9:02 a.m. to 11:54 a.m., with the moon obscuring 58 to 76 percent of solar rays, depending on the resource location, and causing a loss of 4,194MW of California large scale solar electricity. California won't see another eclipse of this magnitude until 2045.

California is known for doing its thing when it comes to conservation and energy efficiency. The state has the second lowest per capita electricity consumption rates in the country. But we can do more. The new website offers tips to help reduce usage, such as:

  • Be a vampire slayer: The morning of the eclipse, unplug the things that are "always on" but don't need to be. Twenty-three percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off (what we call "vampires"). The average U.S. household spends $100 per year to power devices while they are off or in standby mode. The morning of the eclipse, unplug things like coffee makers, televisions, computers, and gadgets that are always on (but not the refrigerator!).
  • Before the eclipse, change at least half of your lightbulbs to LEDs: If all Californians upgraded to LED light bulbs, the state could reduce CO2 emissions equivalent to those produced by one coal-fired power plant in one year. Upgrading to LED light bulbs will use at least 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than "old fashioned" incandescents. And, of course, make sure all unnecessary lights are off during the eclipse!
  • Turn up (or off) your air conditioner: You can save a lot of energy by just nudging your air conditioning thermostat up by three degrees if you are home. If you are not home, you'll save a lot more by just turning it off. If you are not home and your beloved pets Fido or Fifi are, they are perfectly comfortable at 80 degrees, according to many veterinarians. Closing the curtains or shades will go a long way towards keeping your home cool on a warm day.