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California facing eletrical transformer troubles as new homes continue to be built

California facing energy crisis as new homes are built
California facing energy crisis as new homes are built 02:11

ROSEVILLE — California is facing a new energy crisis, and this time, it could impact the state's goal of building more than 2 million new homes by 2030.

As new homes are built in California, there's more need for electrical transformers that provide power to neighborhoods -- but right now, they're in short supply.

"What we're actually seeing is anywhere from two years to three years to get a transformer," said Dan Beans, the CEO of Roseville Electric.

Beans said he can only get a fraction of the transformers his growing city needs.

"We had ordered 500 transformers during 2022 and we had received 18 of them," he said.

Now, utilities are warning developers that they may not be able to provide power to new homes and businesses.

"We did meet with the building industry association and said we might run out in the next month or two," Beans said.

"It was an inconvenience at first, but then it became a real problem," said Chris Ochoa with the California Building Industry Association.

Ochoa said some people who purchase a newly built home are now forced to wait.

"The homeowner is ready to move in but we couldn't get the juice turned on, so we had to put them up temporarily in a hotel maybe 30 days, 45 days," he said.

A U.S. Government Accountability Office report shows the transformer shortage is a nationwide problem that could cause large-scale power outages, especially following a disaster.

The report says there's just one company in the U.S. that makes the steel needed to build transformers, and it recommends federal energy officials address the shortage.

"They've identified the problem," Beans said. "They even have some solutions, but they just write papers and they talk about it and they don't do anything."

The problem is expected to get worse as energy efficiency standards are increased.

"We're going to need 2-3 times as many transformers as we go to all-electric new constructions," Ochoa said.

Now there's concern this latest energy crisis will hurt California's economy and trigger more blackouts.

"People aren't going to invest in a state if you have unreliable power," Beans said.

Roseville Electric is adding more than 100 new customers each month, and they are now trying to purchase new transformers from overseas to keep up with demand.

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