Temperatures reached 116 degrees in some urban parts of California in July, but there were no rolling blackouts, no brownouts, no problems.
That happened with the San Onofre Nuclear Power Station producing not even one watt of electricity. For the second straight summer, the now-retired 2,250-megawatt facility is closed, and it apparently will never reopen after leaky steam generators spewed small amounts of radioactivity into the air near the Orange-San Diego county line early last year.
How could a state where brownouts were common just a dozen years ago lose enough electricity to power almost half a million homes and not even hiccup?
It’s a combination of conservation and a prudent building program. More than a decade of encouraging purchases of energy efficient appliances also has had an impact. So have the solar panels installed on many homes and businesses. But the main replacements for San Onofre are “peaker” power plants that fire up mainly when demands on the grid get high. Thousands more megawatts from them are available today than 12 years ago, mostly fueled by natural gas...