Frayed Wires: As California enters a brave new energy world, can it keep the lights on?

Gretchen Bakke thinks a lot about power—the kind that sizzles through a complex grid of electrical stations, poles, lines and transformers, keeping the lights on for tens of millions of Californians who mostly take it for granted.

They shouldn’t, says Bakke, who grew up in a rural California town regularly darkened by outages. A cultural anthropologist who studies the consequences of institutional failures, she says it’s unclear whether the state’s aging electricity network and its managers can handle what’s about to hit it.

California is casting off fossil fuels to become something that doesn’t yet exist: a fully electrified state of 40 million people. Policies are in place requiring a rush of energy from renewable sources such as the sun and wind and calling for millions of electric cars that will need charging—changes that will tax a system already fragile, unstable and increasingly vulnerable to outside forces.

“There is so much happening, so fast—the grid and nearly everything about energy is in real transition, and there’s so much at stake,” said Bakke, who explores these issues in a book titled simply, “The Grid.”

Read the entire article at CalMatters.org