CONCORD (KPIX 5) — The state Public Utilities Commission is asking us all to reduce energy use during the solar eclipse on Monday, August 21st, because the eclipse will affect the state’s solar resources.
PUC President Michael Picker said, “When we see this kind of loss of sun we probably will lose about 6 gigawatts, that’s about six nuclear power generators.”
The sun will be totally eclipsed to those viewing it in a range about 70 miles wide, running from Oregon to Charleston, S.C.
In Northern California, we’re not in the path of a total solar eclipse, but even a partial eclipse of the sun can alter the power grid.
Seventy-five percent of overall solar production will be reduced in Northern California.
Even in Richmond, California, a solar farm there will be affected during the eclipse, with the moon obscuring 58 to 76 percent of solar rays.
Grid planners are always thinking ahead for big events like next week. Operators say they can also rely on hydroelectricity, wind, geothermal and natural gas if solar can’t come into play that day.
Grid planners are calling on everyone to help out as well and the PUC is calling on its customers to unplug.
“What if people just step forward and did one thing to replace the sun by reducing their electricity use?” PUC President Michael Picker said.
Some ways to unplug include not charging electronics, unpluging appliances, turning off the lights or turning up your thermostat a few degrees between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on August 21.
And a word of warning from those who have spent their lives studying the sun, don’t look up without protective eye-wear.