California peak power demand: 50,000,000,000 watts

That's right. 50 BILLION watts (or 50 gigawatts), a new all time record high to go with our new record high temperatures. This demand threw us into a stage 2 power emergency. Stage 1 is voluntary reduction by some businesses, stage 2 is "voluntary" blackouts by businesses and residences that agreed to it in advance (in exchange for lower rates, I believe), and stage 3 is rolling blackouts.

Today's forcast peak demand according to CaliforniaISO's webpage is 50,538 megawatts somewhere between 3-5 pm today. They have some pretty nifty graphs, worth a look.



To give you an idea of how much power 50,000 megawatts is, a typical nuclear power plant can only generate between 40 and 1000 megawatts. Typical coal plants are in the 1000 megawatt range. Even the enormous hoover dam only produces 2,080 megawatts.

The population of California is ~36,132,147 as of 2005 according to the US Census. This means that the every person in the state of California is using 1,384 watts of power during peak load.

Wiki has a great page on order of magnitude for power. The US, on average consumed 424.3 GW in 2001. So at peak, California by itself is consuming almost 10% of the average power consumption of the United States from 10 years ago.