This fall, as millions of Californians went without power and wildfires claimed homes and livelihoods, the fragile state of California’s electricity grid came center-stage. Our deep reliance on it to power our homes, businesses, schools, healthcare and medical devices, and other critical services also became painfully clear. Understandably, the current focus is on the grid’s resilience to wildfires.
The unfortunate reality is that wildfire risk is just part of the story. Heat waves, droughts, and flooding affect the grid and will become even more frequent and severe — in California and across the nation – if heat-trapping emissions remain unchecked. Heatwaves can also co-occur with wildfires, increasing risks to the grid. This raises important questions about the electricity grid’s readiness for more extremes today and in the future.