California's electricity crisis is treated in the media as if it were some sort of natural disaster, like a hurricane. But the only fact of nature operating here is the hard-and-fast rule that whenever you come across a screw-up this big, you know the government is behind it.
The California Legislature created this problem about five years ago when it deregulated the wholesale market for electricity but fixed prices at the retail level, a policy that has made Cuba the happy, prosperous country that it is today.
Needless to say, eventually wholesale prices soared, but the utilities were prohibited from passing their increased costs onto consumers. Buy high, sell low! (Isn't that what they teach you in business school?) Since the California utilities are about to go bankrupt on the governmentally imposed "Buy high, sell low" strategy, no one will sell them electricity. So now there's no electricity in California -- but at least it's cheap!
You are probably wondering how it is that multibillion-dollar corporations with highly paid business school graduates populating their corporate risk-management departments could have failed to anticipate price fluctuations in the electricity market and entered into long-term contracts.
The answer is: A screw-up this big could only be caused by the government. California actually prohibited utilities from entering into long-term contracts. (The California Legislature came up with many other idiotic ways to mess up the electricity market; this is just the highlight reel.) If California utilities had relied on evil, blood-sucking hedge-fund managers rather than the California Centralized Committee to Fix Prices and Plan Markets, they'd have plenty of electricity now.
To summarize: The California Legislature fixed prices at which electricity could be sold to consumers and prohibited utilities from entering into long-term contracts to hedge the electricity market, leading like night into day to wild fluctuations in the price of electricity, but the utilities couldn't recoup their costs because the government had fixed prices in the retail market.
In the mainstream media, this is known as "deregulation."
In point of fact, the California electricity crisis resulted from government policies that are the opposite of deregulation, the antimatter of deregulation, as antithetical to deregulation as the rule of law is to Bill Clinton.