California Officials Ask Residents to Conserve Energy as Blackouts Loom
California officials are asking locals to use less electricity as record energy demand looms for the state on Tuesday, making it likely for rolling blackouts to occur amid a heatwave.
On Tuesday, California faces its seventh “Flex Alert” in a row. When this alert is active, locals are asked to conserve their use of electricity between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. According to officials, they need to double or triple efforts to conserve energy for it to be effective.
On Monday, the California Independent System Operator declared “Energy Emergency Alert” level 2, just a level under the one where blackouts would have been deemed necessary. It brought four natural gas plants to run to hopefully help with demand since solar and wind power don’t have the means to meet California’s energy needs in such a pinch. It also imported power generated from the Pacific Northwest, a part of the U.S. that has been spared of the heatwave that settled in California in the past week.
A San Francisco Chronicle report about the situation reads;
On Tuesday, the state is predicting a 51,000 megawatt load. Officials issued an emergency energy watch for 5 to 9 p.m., a step that encourages market providers to offer supplemental energy or savings, or both.
So far the Flex Alerts have worked, as state residents have saved 600 to 700 megawatts in recent days. State regulators have asked consumers to avoid running appliances, set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher and turn off all unnecessary lights during those peak hours.
If a Stage 3 [of Energy Emergency Alert] is reached and power must be cut — something that is highly unlikely late Monday evening but could be a possibility again Tuesday — state regulators will ask utilities to determine the best way to drop their usage, probably rotating across systems, hopefully for short durations, [ISO CEO Elliot] Mainzer said.
State authorities have reminded California locals to turn off appliances and house lights if they’re not in use. They also asked people to avoid charging electric vehicles.
On Monday, the entire state used around 49,000 megawatts of power. It is also forecasted to use over 51,000 megawatts on Tuesday. The current record for daily power use in the state is just above 50,000 megawatts, and it has been in place since 2006.