When the sun goes dark, California will lose the equivalent of five nuclear power plants of power.

California is bracing for a significant loss of electric power as its fast-growing fleet of solar electric panels plunge into darkness during a major solar eclipse on August 21.

While the eclipse will be partial in the state, energy planners are getting ready to tap 6,000 megawatts of electricity from other sources between 9 a.m. and noon PDT during the eclipse, according to the California ISO which oversees the electricity markets in America’s most populous state.

The new vulnerability of the massive electric grid to a celestial marvel like an eclipse reflects a massive transformation of how energy is being created and used in America – something most consumers do not ordinarily think about.

In less than two decades, America’s solar power generation has soared heavenward, from a mere 5 megawatts in 2000 to 42,619 megawatts last year.

The 6,000 megawatts California has to cover during the sun’s blackout is a massive amount of energy, the equivalent of the output of a handful of large nuclear

power plants.

Fortunately, California this summer is blessed with 5,000 – 6,000 megawatts of hydroelectric resources as a result of ample snow and rains this past winter and spring, according to Deane Lyon, California ISO shift manager, real-time operations.

“We are planning to use a variety of approaches to this,” Lyon told the Energy…