The operator of the state’s power grid warned of an increasing likelihood of power shortages Tuesday unless consumers can reduce their energy use even more than they have so far, as California continued to bake under an unusually long heat wave that has produced record high temperatures.
The California Independent System Operator extended a Flex Alert until Tuesday, urging residents to take all possible measures to conserve electricity during the peak hours of 4-9 p.m. for the seventh consecutive day.
“This is an extraordinary heat event we are experiencing, and the efforts by consumers to lean in and reduce their energy use after 4 p.m. are absolutely essential,” said Elliot Mainzer, the California ISO’s president and CEO.
“Over the last several days we have seen a positive impact on lowering demand because of everyone’s help, but now we need a reduction in energy use that is two or three times greater than what we’ve seen so far as this historic heat wave continues to intensify,” he added.
If conditions continue to deteriorate, an Energy Emergency Alert may be declared. If reserves are then exhausted, the ISO would instruct utilities in its service area 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.
“We never want to get to that point, of course,” Mainzer said, “but we want everyone to be prepared and understand what is at stake. We can’t control the weather, but we really can bend the demand curve and get through this successfully if everyone doubles down and reduces their energy use as much as possible.”
Current forecasts predict peak demand at 51,145 megawatts on Tuesday, which would break the record of 50,270 MW in 2006, according to the ISO. Wednesday’s load is forecast at 50,002 MW. The ISO is projecting supply deficiencies of 400 to 3,400 MW between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Tuesday.
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 1000 MW for each of the past several days.
During the Flex Alerts, residents are urged 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 are also advised to pre-cool their homes as much as possible and close blinds and drapes to keep interiors cool.
Southern California has seen temperatures soar above 100 degrees every day since last Wednesday, with little relief in sight until at least Friday.
Overnight lows are not offering much relief either, staying in the 70s and even in the low 80s in some of the hotter areas.
Monday’s high temperatures reached 101 in downtown Los Angeles, 105 in Pasadena, 109 in North Hollywood and Santa Clarita, and 110 in Van Nuys and Lancaster.
In Orange County, Anaheim reached 98 degrees Monday and Fullerton reached 100.
The excessive heat warning has been extended until at least 8 p.m. Thursday for the mountains and the Santa Clarita, San Fernando, Antelope and San Gabriel valleys, along with the inland coastal area, including downtown Los Angeles.
And the excessive heat warning has been 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.”
The last few days have seen record highs for specific dates in Long Beach, Lancaster, Palmdale and Sandberg.
“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 heat stroke and to take precautions.
Cooling centers for Los Angeles County can be found at ready.lacounty.gov/heat/. Cooling centers for the city of Los Angeles can be found at emergency.lacity.org/la-responds/beat-heat, or by calling 311.
According to the NWS, a cool-down is expected by next weekend, including “a chance of showers and thunderstorms for all areas.”