Climate, extreme heat, and electricity demand in California Page: 4 of 30

often resulting in electricity supply failure. This has already occurred during extreme
summer heat events over the last several years, most notably in the summer of 2003,
when a system failure resulted in the largest blackout in U.S. history leaving as many
as 50 million people without power for several days.
In addition to increasing electricity demand, significant increases in the
frequency, intensity, and duration of summertime extreme heat days are also
projected due to climate change [Houghton, et al. 2001; Hayhoe et al. 2004; Miller
and Hayhoe 2006]. Extreme heat days are defined here as the 10 percent warmest
days of the summer, calculated as 1961-1990 warmest days exceeding the 90 percent
probability of the summertime daily maximum temperatures (T90) for a given
location or region. The correlation between daily mean near-surface air temperature
(Ta) and peak electricity demand during such T90 heat extremes suggests the
potential for significant temperature-driven increases in future electricity demand for
air conditioning [Balzer et al. 1996, Amato et al. 2005, Mendelsohn and Neumann,
1999, Rosenthal and Gruenspecht. 1995; Henley and Peirson, 1998, Cartalis, et al.
2001, Valor et al. 2001]. For example, Colombo et al. [1999] analyzed the frequency
of extreme heat and electricity demand for nine Canadian cities using the current
climate and a warmer climate based on a doubling in atmospheric greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions. Their study suggests that a 3 C increase in the daily maximum
temperature would lead to a 7 percent increase in the standard deviation of current
peak energy demand during the summer.
California is one of the world's largest economies and a world leader in energy
efficiency and demand-side management practices. State-wide, electricity demand


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Miller, N.L.; Hayhoe, K.; Jin, J. & Auffhammer, M. Climate, extreme heat, and electricity demand in California, article, April 1, 2008; Berkeley, California. ( accessed May 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library,; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.

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