Control room at California Independent System Operator. Photo via cdn.phys.org
Control room at California Independent System Operator. Photo via cdn.phys.org

The manager of the state’s power grid anticipates having enough capacity to handle the anticipated rise in electrical during the upcoming heat wave, but authorities urged residents Friday to do their part by conserving wherever possible.

The California Independent System Operator, or Cal-ISO, predicted that electrical demand on Monday and Tuesday would likely top 46,000 megawatts. The highest peak demand reached last year was 47,358 megawatts, while the all-time record peak demand was 50,270 megawatts, set in July 2006.

“We are confident we have a strong plan in place to meet the operational challenges posed by the upcoming hot temperatures,” according to Cal-ISO President/CEO Steve Berberich. “Conservation efforts by consumers are key to reducing stress on the system and to help avoid service interruptions.”

The agency noted that it is working particularly closely with the Southern California Gas Co. and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power in light of limited operations at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Porter Ranch. The facility — the site of an extensive natural gas leak that lasted from October to February — has been in limited operation while inspections continue at the site.

The facility’s limited operations have led to concerns about a lack of electrical power and possible rolling blackouts this summer, since natural gas is used to energize electrical plants.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District announced Thursday it had granted summer exemptions for power plants in Long Beach, Wilmington and Sun City, allowing them to burn diesel fuel as a backup to natural gas to keep plants running.

In hopes of encouraging more residents to conserve, the Energy Providers of Southern California — a coalition of natural gas and electrical utilities, including SoCalGas — began an initiative called Conserve Energy SoCal. A primary goal of the effort is to educate residents about the role natural gas plays in generating electricity.

The coalition noted that 61 percent of electricity is generated a natural-gas-burning power plants.

The public-outreach effort will include advertisements, postings on social media and a website at ConserveEnergySoCal.com.

Cal-ISO officials noted that the agency is prepared to issue Flex Alerts for Southern California on Monday and Tuesday if electricity use spikes. Flex Alerts call on customers to step up their conservation efforts.

In times of extremely high electrical demand, Cal-ISO can go beyond a Flex Alert and issue emergency declarations in three stages, the most severe of which is a warning of possible power interruptions due to limited power reserves.

— City News Service

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