As Southern California enters a ninth straight day of record-setting heat Thursday, the state’s power regulators are hoping to continue their streak of avoiding rolling blackouts, asking all residents to conserve electricity during the hours of 3 to 10 p.m., extending the previous Flex Alerts by two hours.
The Flex Alert issued by the California Independent System Operator, which manages the state’s power grid, took effect at 4 p.m. Wednesday and remained in effect until 9 p.m., urging residents to eliminate unnecessary power usage and prevent strain on the system.
There were no rotating outages, the California Independent System Operator reported.
The agency also moved to an Energy Emergency Alert 2, working to secure all available power resources to meet demand while also warning utilities that demand could outpace supply absent significant conservation efforts.
During the Flex Alert, residents are asked to save power by:
— 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. Tuesday, the state moved into an Energy Emergency Alert 3, calling for maximum conservation efforts while warning that blackouts could be imminent without reduced demand.
To drive home the situation, alerts were sent to cell phones 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,” the power-grid manager warned Tuesday evening. “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.”
But with residents responding to the conservation call, officials ended Energy Emergency Alert 3 at 8 p.m. Tuesday, declaring “consumer conservation played a big part in protecting electric grid reliability.”
Late Tuesday afternoon, statewide electricity demand reached 52,061 megawatts, breaking the record of 50,270 MW set in 2006, according to Cal-ISO.
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 every day since Wednesday of last week, with little relief in sight until this weekend. A record high temperature was reported in Sandberg on Wednesday. It was 99, breaking the record of 97 set in 2018.
“The prolonged heat wave will finally break this weekend as weakening tropical cyclone Kay stalls offshore,” according to the National Weather Service. “Kay will bring showers and a chance of showers and thunderstorms late Friday into Saturday, then decreasing chances Sunday with slightly warmer temperatures. Temperatures will remain near or slightly below normal next week.”
Until then, however, the heat persists, with little relief overnight in many 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 will be in effect through 8 p.m. Friday for 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. Los Angeles County beaches and the Malibu coast will be under excessive heat warnings only on Friday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to the NWS.
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 heat stroke and to take precautions.
Cooling centers for Los Angeles County can be found at ready.lacounty.gov/heat/. Cooling centers for Los Angeles can be found at emergency.lacity.org/la-responds/beat-heat, or by calling 311.