Millions of Californians may have just suffered an unprecedented, induced blackout by the state’s largest (and bankrupt) utility, PG&E, just so it isn’t blamed for starting even more fires causing it to go even more bankrupt… but at least the price of gas is soaring.
According to Fox5NY, citing figures from AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in Los Angeles County was $4.25 on Wednesday, 4.5 cents higher than one week ago, 57.6 cents more than one month ago and 37.1 cents greater than one year ago. It has also risen 86.4 cents since the start of the year. What is more troubling is that as California gas prices reached the highest level in the state since 2015, some Los Angeles area gas stations are charging more than $5 a gallon.
The gas price spike started last month after Saudi Arabia oil production facilities were attacked, and accelerated after three Los Angeles-area refineries slowed or halted production due to maintenance issues and no imported gasoline was available to make up for the shortfall, according to Jeffrey Spring, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s corporate communications manager.
The shortage was made worse after local refineries cut back production of summer-blend gasoline in anticipation of switching to selling the winter blend beginning Nov. 1.
But wait, there’s more: America’s most “environmentally conscious” state got a harsh lesson in electrical engineering when many of the tens of thousands of people hit by this week’s blackout learned the hard way that solar installations don’t keep the lights on during a power outage.
That, as Bloomberg reports, is “because most panels are designed to supply power to the grid, not directly to houses. During the heat of the day, solar systems generate more juice than a home can handle. However, they don’t produce power at all at night. So systems are tied into the grid, and the vast majority aren’t working this week as PG&E cut power to much of Northern California to prevent wildfires.”
Of course, the only way for most solar panels to work during a blackout is pairing them with batteries, however as Tesla has found out the hard way, that market is just starting to take off and even so it’s having a very difficult time making headway. The largest U.S. rooftop solar company, Sunrun, said hundreds of its customers are making it through the blackouts with batteries. Alas, the total number of those affected – and without power – is in the hundreds of thousands.
“It’s the perfect combination for getting through these shutdowns,” Sunrun Chairman Ed Fenster said in an interview. He expects battery sales to boom in the wake of the outages.
For those wondering if their appliances can work of the power generated by a Tesla, the answer is no, at least without special equipment. Incidentally, without electricity, a Tesla itself won’t run. So those Californians who still have “uncool” internal combustion engines are in luck; they just may have to pay nearly $6 per gallon soon to fill up.