Climate change is heating up Los Angeles. We need a grid that can keep the power on when it's sweltering

The record-breaking heat that baked Southern California and prompted mass power outages last weekend was just a taste of what is to come. Summers in SoCal have already been getting hotter over the last century. Climate change is expected to produce more frequent and more blistering heat waves in the coming years that will put unprecedented stress on the electrical grid and challenge utilities to keep the power on.

Los Angeles, apparently, isn’t ready for the new normal. The demand for electricity Friday, Saturday and Sunday overwhelmed the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s aged system, prompting power outages that affected more than 80,000 customers. The unluckiest people went 48 hours without electricity; they and many others had to evacuate their homes in search of air conditioning elsewhere.

Los Angeles wasn’t alone. Other communities, including some served by Southern California Edison, experienced heat-related electrical outages. But the number and duration of the power problems in Los Angeles should be a wake-up call that there is a lot of work needed to make the city more resilient as heat waves like this become more common.

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