Northern California Has Less Reliable Electricity Than Rural China

Rural China has a better power grid than Northern California. Rural China power outages in 2019 averaged 900 minutes while Northern California had 2019 power outages of over 1300 minutes.

Rural China has per capita income of less than $3000 per person (16000 RMB). California has per capita GDP of over $70,000. Californians are over 20 times wealthier than people in rural china. However, California cannot maintain a more reliable power grid.

From 2016 to 2019, China’s total investment in transforming and upgrading rural power grids reached RMB830 billion (US$150 billion), and the average power outage time in rural areas was reduced to about 15 hours (900 Minutes) per year.

California PGE has a report on outages in 2019 when high winds caused many “safety” shutdowns. They did not include planned shutdowns and like to report a statistic where they exclude “major events”.

The System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) is commonly used as a reliability indicator by electric power utilities. PGE had over 1300 minutes of outage per customer. customers in NAPA had an average of over 6000 minutes of outage and the North Bay had over 4000 minutes of outage.

In 2020, for multiple days millions of customers had rotating blackout lasting hours.

In 2004, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) estimated that the annual costs of U.S. power outages are at least $22 billion and maybe as high as $135 billion. This was before California’s problems with a poorly maintained grid and poorly maintained forests and over reliance on wind and solar made things much worse.

Reviewing What Days Are Problems for Electrical Power in California
Let us review what days can be problems for electrical power in California.

Windy days when winds are over 25 miles per hour and gusting to 45 miles per hour.
Very calm days when there is no wind.
Hot days when too many people need air conditioning.
Days when there are wildfires.
Smoky days when wildfires make too much smoke and prevent sun from reaching solar panels.

The average U.S. customer lost power for 214 minutes per year back in 2005.

Average minutes per year of customer power losses :
United Kingdom 70 minutes
France 53 minutes
Netherlands 29 minutes
Japan 6 minutes
Singapore 2 minutes.

PGE Also Kills Many Customers

PGE has a long history of incompetence. PGE was responsible for poisoning the town of Hinkley. This was made into the movie Erin Brockovich.

From 1952 to 1966, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) dumped about 370 million gallons of chromium-tainted wastewater into unlined wastewater spreading ponds around the town of Hinkley, California, located in the Mojave Desert (about 120 miles north-northeast of Los Angeles). PG&E used chromium 6, or hexavalent chromium (a cheap and efficient rust suppressor), in its compressor station for natural-gas transmission pipelines. Hexavalent-chromium compounds are genotoxic carcinogens. In 1993, legal clerk Erin Brockovich began an investigation into the health impacts of the contamination. A class-action lawsuit about the contamination was settled in 1996 for $333 million.

In 2018, the Camp Fire killed 85 people, left several firefighters injured and razed more than 150,000 acres in Northern California.

SOURCES – Energy in China’s New Era (The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China December 2020), PGE
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com