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

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.”

The state’s task grew more complicated with this week’s announcement that Pacific Gas and Electric, which provides electricity for more than 5 million customer accounts, intends to file for bankruptcy in the face of potentially crippling liabilities from wildfires. But the reshaping of California’s energy future goes far beyond the woes of a single company.

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