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California ordered rolling power outages for the first time since 2001 as a statewide heat wave strained its electrical system. Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

California on Monday avoided a repeat of the rolling blackouts imposed last weekend, as the state's grid operator cited lower temperatures and conservation.

Where it stands: The state is nowhere near out of the woods in the near term, and certainly not in the long term as officials scramble to shore up the grid against heat and wildfire threats. The California Independent System Operator's current "flex alert"calls for conservation steps and warns of outages remains in effect through Wednesday.

What's new: Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday demanded that state power officials conduct an investigation into the outages Friday and Saturday.

  • "These blackouts, which occurred without prior warning or enough time for preparation, are unacceptable and unbefitting of the nation’s largest and most innovative state," he said in a letter to the state's utilities commission, energy commission and grid operator.

The intrigue: The blackouts show the challenges facing the nation's most populous state as it moves away from fossil fuels and expands the use of renewables, notably solar power that wanes late in the day when demand is high.

  • Newsom's letter calls the failure to predict shortages on Aug. 14 and 15 "unacceptable particularly given our state's work to combat climate change." It calls on the grid operator to review its assumptions around solar capacity.
  • "The emergency outages, though brief to date, demonstrate the challenges California faces in making sure its transition to cleaner power doesn’t come at the expense of reliability," the Wall Street Journal reports in a deeper look at the topic.

Go deeper

Invenergy is building the largest U.S. solar farm in Texas

Invenergy solar panels in Bozeman, Montana. Photo: William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images

Chicago-based Invenergy has announced the green energy generation and storage operator is installing what will be largest solar farm in the United States in five phases over the next three years through a $1.6 billion investment.

Why it matters: The 1,310-megawatt facility based in northeastern Texas aims to help consumer brands like AT&T, Honda, Google and McDonald's meet their clean energy goals while supplying 300,000 homes across three cities with power upon its completion in 2023.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
30 mins ago - Health

Experts fear a bad flu season on top of COVID

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Public health officials are warning that the U.S. may be on the verge of a dangerous double whammy: COVID and flu, spreading simultaneously.

The big picture: The Delta variant is still circulating across the U.S., and the Omicron variant isn't far behind. On top of that, experts see potential warning signs of a bad flu season, which could leave millions of Americans vulnerable and strain health care resources.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Australia joins U.S. in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Australia is joining the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games in protest of human rights abuses committed by China's government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: After the Biden administration's announcement that U.S. officials won't attend the Games due to the ongoing genocide of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region of China, Morrison said at a Sydney briefing that Australia would follow suit as "it's the right thing to do."