In California and India, extreme weather fueled by climate change is driving blackouts, or threatening to. Dangerously extreme heat across wide swaths of India and Pakistan is driving up electricity demand as residents run air containers to stay cool in temperatures that have hit 104°F (40°C) several days in a row in the capital city of New Delhi, with temperatures expected to soar past 111°F on Sunday. Hospitals have been told to prepare for an influx of heatstroke patients, and at least three states have imposed industrial power cuts to ease demand.
Meanwhile, in California, the historic megadrought has pushed reservoirs so low that the hydroelectric dams feeding off them could be forced to shut down. Lake Mead, the largest such reservoir in the U.S. supplying water to millions of people, hit a record low water level last week, exposing an intake valve installed in 1971 for the first time. The extreme drought forced the shutdown of Hyatt Power Plant below Lake Oroville last summer. That dam produces about 1% of California’s peak electricity demand. In August 2020, a shortfall of just 0.5% of total demand caused the first rolling blackouts in the state in nearly two decades. (India: Reuters, Washington Post $, New York Times $; California blackout threat: (Bloomberg $; Lake Mead: CNN; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves, Western megadrought)