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Fact check: Trump falsely claims California had ‘blackouts all over the place this summer’

By Daniel Dale and Ella Nilsen, CNN

Washington (CNN) — Former President Donald Trump, now a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, falsely claimed in a Thursday speech in Texas that California had widespread blackouts this summer because the state didn’t have sufficient electricity to meet demand.

“They want to go all electric,” Trump said while criticizing the Biden administration, “even though we don’t have enough electricity to cool down California in the summers. Did you see, they had blackouts all over the place this summer? It was a disaster. The winter’s no good … the whole thing is crazy. ‘Let’s go all electric, but we don’t have enough electric to take care of somebody’s air conditioner in California.’”

Facts FirstTrump’s claim that California “had blackouts all over the place this summer” is false. California was able to meet its electricity demand throughout the summer.

“California didn’t experience any outages this year because of a load imbalance. We haven’t since 2020,” Erin Mellon, spokesperson for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, said in an email on Friday. Mellon added, “We’ve drastically expanded our clean energy portfolio, and recently CA hit 6,600 MW of battery storage – enough for 6.6 million homes for 4 hours.”

As CNN reported in August, when Trump made a similar false claim that California was “in a big brownout,” the state was also aided this summer by the large quantity of snow and rain that fell in the winter and spring, which refilled reservoirs that generate electricity using hydropower. And the state benefited from cooler summer temperatures in some areas than it has had in previous recent summers.

Vonette Fontaine, spokesperson for the California Independent System Operator, which manages the power grid for 80% of the state, said in a Thursday email: “The California Independent System Operator did not experience any grid emergencies this summer requiring electricity outages.”

Trump’s claim was noted on social media on Thursday by Acyn Torabi, senior digital editor for the liberal website Trump’s campaign did not respond Friday to a CNN request for any examples of the supposed California “blackouts all over the place this summer.”

Legitimate questions about the future

None of this is to say that there have been zero power outages of any kind for any California resident in 2023. There are sporadic local outages around the country because of maintenance work, weather damage, accidents and equipment failures. California also has a practice of precautionary power shutoffs to thwart wildfires.

And as CNN reported in August, there are legitimate questions about how well California’s power grid will hold up as drivers shift to electric vehicles by the millions by 2035, the year the state is scheduled to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars.

Still, Trump didn’t merely predict on Thursday that California will struggle with future electricity demand. He claimed that that California had widespread blackouts this past summer because it couldn’t produce enough electricity then. That’s thoroughly inaccurate.

Mark Toney, executive director of The Utility Reform Network (TURN), a ratepayer advocacy organization in California, said in a Friday email that his group often finds itself at odds with the governor’s office on energy policy issues, but “in this case, I concur with the Governor’s Office and CAISO that there were zero blackouts during the summer last year and that California generates sufficient electricity, together with effective load management, to meet summer peak load.”

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