Why Do Rolling Blackouts Happen?


Quick Answer

A rolling blackout, or rotational load shedding, occurs when the power company intentionally shuts off the electric supply to different areas of the grid at different times. This happens when customers use more electricity than the company can provide or because the infrastructure is insufficient or poorly maintained.

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Full Answer

When power plants break down, are temporarily shut down for maintenance or are decommissioned, the remaining power sources sometimes fail to produce enough power to meet the demand. This happens most frequently in developing countries, but it is not unheard of in the West. Chronic shortages occur frequently in India. In some rural areas, blackouts commonly last for 12 hours at a time. In California, deregulation led to a few power plants being closed; when demand peaks, the remaining plants are overtaxed and rolling blackouts are used to avoid unplanned outages.

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