California’s power regulators are hoping to continue their streak of avoiding rolling blackouts as another day of oppressive heat bears down on the state, once again asking all residents to conserve electricity today during the hours of 4 to 9 p.m.
The California Independent System Operator extended a Flex Alert for the eighth consecutive day Wednesday, urging residents to take the following power-saving steps:
- setting thermostats to 78 degrees or higher;
- avoiding use of major appliances;
- turning off unnecessary lights; and
- avoid charging electric vehicles.
Residents were also advised to pre-cool their homes as much as possible and close blinds and drapes to keep interiors cool.
The voluntary conservation measures have worked so far, as the power stayed on Tuesday despite a record demand for electricity.
Just before 6 p.m., the state moved into an Energy Emergency Alert 3, calling for maximum conservation efforts while warning that blackouts could be imminent absent reduced demand.
To drive home the demand, alerts were sent to cellphones across the state urging people to “conserve energy now to protect public health and safety,” and warning that “power interruptions may occur unless you take action.”
“As the state faces the hottest day in this prolonged, record-breaking heat wave, grid conditions are expected to worsen,” according to the power-grid manager. “If needed, ISO could order utilities to begin rotating power outages to maintain stability of the electric grid. If that occurs, consumers should expect communications—either phone, text or email—from their utilities notifying them of outage areas and likely durations.”
Officials ended Energy Emergency Alert 3 at 8 p.m., declaring “consumer conservation played a big part in protecting electric grid reliability.”
If energy reserves were exhausted, the ISO would have instructed utilities to manage rolling blackouts. Utilities make the determination of how best to spread and rotate the outages across their service territory, with the goal of keeping them as short as possible.
By late Tuesday afternoon, electricity demand reached 52,061 megawatts, breaking the record of 50,270 MW set in 2006, according to the ISO.
Wednesday’s load is forecast at 49,868 MW.
Consumer and commercial demand response, including Flex Alerts, has been helping to extend tight resources over the past week, with a load reduction of around 1,000 MW for each of the past several days.
Southern California has seen temperatures soar above 100 degrees everyday since Wednesday of last week, with little relief in sight until this weekend.
Overnight lows are not offering much relief either, staying in the 70s and even in the low 80s in some of the hotter areas.
Record minimum temperatures were set throughout Southern California on Tuesday night. In Santa Ana, the low of 74 tied a record set in 2020. In San Diego, the low of 73 tied a record set in 1995.
Excessive heat warnings are in effect through 8 p.m. Friday for Los Angeles County beaches, the inland coastal area including downtown Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Mountains and the San Gabriel, San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys. The warnings are in place until 8 p.m. Thursday in the Los Angeles County mountains and Antelope Valley.
The excessive heat warning was extended until at least 8 p.m. Friday for Orange County coastal and inland areas, including valleys in San Bernardino and Riverside, and the Santa Ana mountains and foothills.
“A prolonged period of very hot conditions with minimal coastal clouds is expected through much of this week as high pressure aloft remains anchored over the West,” according to the National Weather Service. “Triple-digit heat will be common for many valley and mountain locations with a very high risk of heat illness.
“Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors,” the NWS urged. “Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.”
Forecasters also urged residents to be aware of the signs of heatstroke and to take precautions.
Long Beach will keep open several cooling centers through at least Friday. City officials also scaled back hours of its COVID-19 testing site at Veterans Stadium on Thursday and Friday. The site will not be open for afternoon appointments, but will remain open 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. only.
A cool-down is expected by Saturday, including “a chance of showers and thunderstorms for all areas.”