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The Day California Went Dark Was a Crisis Years in the Making

Aug. 24, 2020, 11:30 AM

Signs of a problem within California’s power system emerged a full day before the blackouts hit.

Trader Dov Quint sat in his basement outside Boulder, Colorado, scouring the state’s day-ahead power market for opportunities to profit from California’s heat wave. He saw something strange: Prices for electricity to be delivered the next day – the day of the blackouts – were nearing $1,000 a megawatt-hour, more than 26 times higher than last year’s average.

The last time that happened, in July 2018, the forecast for demand had been much higher. Something was amiss -- were energy supplies lower than usual? ...

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