The California Integrated System Operator, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the California Energy Commission reported on the root causes of the events leading to the August 2020 outages. The preliminary and final root cause analysis reports are available below.

Major Conclusions

The report finds that:

  1. The climate change-induced extreme heat wave across the western United States resulted in demand for electricity exceeding existing electricity resource adequacy (RA) and planning targets.
  2. In transitioning to a reliable, clean, and affordable resource mix, resource planning targets have not kept pace to ensure sufficient resources that can be relied upon to meet demand in the early evening hours. This made balancing demand and supply more challenging during the extreme heat wave.
  3. Some practices in the day-ahead energy market exacerbated the supply challenges under highly stressed conditions.

The combination of these factors was an extraordinary event. But it is our responsibility and intent to plan for such events.  The report recommends that the joint entities and the State take the following immediate actions to ensure reliability for 2021 and beyond:

  1. The CPUC opened an Emergency Reliability rulemaking (R.20-11-003) to procure additional resources to meet California’s electricity demand in summer 2021.
  2. The California ISO is continuing to perform analysis supporting an increase to the CPUC’s RA program procurement targets.
  3. The California ISO is expediting a stakeholder process to consider market rule and practice changes by June 2021 that will ensure the California ISO’s market mechanisms accurately reflect the actual balance of supply and demand during stressed operating conditions.
  4. The CPUC is tracking progress on generation and battery storage projects that are currently under construction in California to ensure there are no CPUC-related regulatory barriers that would prevent them from being completed by their targeted online dates. The California ISO will continue to work with developers to address interconnection issues as they arise.
  5. The California ISO and CEC will coordinate with non-CPUC-jurisdictional entities to encourage additional necessary procurement by such entities.
  6. The CEC is conducting probabilistic studies that evaluate the loss of load expectation on the California system to determine the amount of capacity that needs to be installed to meet the desired service reliability targets.
  7. The California ISO, CPUC, and CEC are planning to enhance the efficacy of Flex Alerts to maximize consumer conservation and other demand side efforts during extreme heat events.
  8. Preparations by the California ISO, CPUC, and CEC are underway to improve advance coordination for contingencies, including communication protocols and development of a contingency plan.