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California warns of possible summer blackouts as power runs low

California energy officials warned the state may be at risk of blackouts for the next three summers due to power supply shortages and extreme weather.

The state could be short about 1,700 megawatts this summer – enough power for about 1.3 million homes – and that gap may widen to about 1,800 megawatts by 2025, officials said Friday during a media call.

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These forecasts don’t include other factors such as extreme regional heat waves or wildfires that can take down power lines, they said.

“We continue to see climate-change conditions are impacting our energy system in unprecedented ways,” California Public Utilities Commission President Alice Reynolds said. “We know that reliability is going to be difficult in this time of transition.”

The energy-shortage projections come a week after California Governor Gavin Newsom said he would support extending the life of the state’s only remaining nuclear power plant to make sure there are enough power resources to maintain reliability while transitioning to a carbon-free grid.

California has struggled to keep the lights on the past two summers, with grid operators imposing brief rotating blackouts in 2020 during an extreme regional heat wave that overwhelmed the grid.

Officials warned of potential shortages last summer, although the state avoided having to impose blackouts after Newsom declared a grid emergency, which helped free up additional power resources.

The biggest challenge for the power system is during hot evenings in late summer and early fall, when solar production falls after sunset while demand for air-conditioning remains high, said Mark Rothleder, chief operating officer of the California Independent System Operator, which oversees the main state grid.

To fill the supply gap, California officials have ordered utilities to buy thousands of megawatts of new supplies including batteries, which can soak up excess solar energy during the day and then release power in the evening when the grid is most stressed.

Still, global supply-chain challenges and other issues have delayed about 600 megawatts of new clean energy projects this year, said Siva Gunda, vice chair of the California Energy Commission.

Drought has also reduced output from the state’s hydroelectric dams, officials said.

California has put in place a number of measures to address potential energy shortfalls this summer, including a new program that will pay customers to reduce their energy use in periods of high demand, California Public Utilities Commission’s Reynolds said.

“We are in a better position than we were last year, she said. “But we also know that we may see conditions that are worse than last year, so we have to be prepared.”

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US: Bodies of two of three missing kids found in Minnesota lake

The bodies of two young children have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, and searchers are still looking for a third they fear may have been intentionally drowned.

Meanwhile, the father of the children died at a different location hours earlier, and their mother is missing. Names have not been released.

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The chain of events began Friday morning when the father was found dead at a mobile home park in the town of Maplewood, near Minneapolis. Police determined that the woman had left with the children, and a search began.

Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner said the woman’s car was found near Vadnais Lake around 4 p.m. Friday. The shoes of the children were found on the shore.

A search of the lake found one child’s body Friday evening. A second body was found overnight. Searchers from several organizations were busy Saturday looking for the third, as well as the mother.

Authorities believe all three children were under the age of 5.

“There’s nothing more tragic than the loss of young children,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said at a news conference on Friday. He called the deaths a “likely triple homicide.”

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

Several dozen Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters took up their posts in Greece on Saturday, the first members of a European force being deployed to the country to provide backup in case of major wildfires during the summer.

More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway and Finland will be on standby during the hottest months of July and August in Greece, where a spate of wildfires caused devastation last summer.

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A group of 28 Romanian firefighters with eight vehicles, and 16 firefighters from Bulgaria with four vehicles, were the first to arrive for the two-month mission, financed and coordinated under the European Union’s civil protection mechanism.

“We thank you very much for coming to help us during a difficult summer for our country, and for proving that European solidarity is not just theoretical, it’s real,” Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Saturday as he welcomed the members of the Romanian mission in Athens.

“When things get tough, you will be side by side with our Greek firefighters so we can save lives and property.”

The Bulgarian firefighters have been stationed in Larissa, in central Greece.

Last summer’s wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as the country experienced its worst heatwave in 30 years.

Following sharp criticism of its response to the fires, the Greek government set up a new civil protection ministry and promised to boost firefighting capacities.

In Greece’s worst wildfire disaster, 102 people were killed when a blaze tore through the seaside town of Mati and nearby areas close to Athens during the summer of 2018.

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One killed, six injured in shootout between migrant groups in Serbia

One migrant was killed and at least six others, including a teenage girl, were injured Saturday in a shootout between migrant groups in Serbia near the Hungarian border, the state-run RTS television reported.

The 16-year-old girl sustained life threatening injuries in the incident that occurred in a forest in the outskirts of Subotica, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Belgrade, where the injured were hospitalized, RTS reported.

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Police, who made no immediate comment, blocked access to the forest where the incident took place, only around a kilometer from the Hungarian border.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin rushed to the scene.

The injured, aged between 20 and 30, have no documents, Subotica mayor Stevan Bakic told local media.

It is not known what triggered the incident, he added.

Local media reported that the shootout occurred between Afghan and Pakistani migrants most likely over human trafficking from the area to European Union member Hungary.

Serbia lies on the so-called Balkans route used by migrants heading towards Western Europe as they flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Although the route is nowhere as busy as it was during Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, tens of thousands of illegal migrants still cross the region annually.

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