California is facing its highest chance of blackouts this year as a brutal heat wave continues to blanket the state with triple-digit temperatures. State energy officials said the electrical load Tuesday afternoon could top 51,000 megawatts, the highest demand the state has ever seen.
As people crank up their air conditioners, the state forecasted record levels of energy use, said Elliot Mainzer, president of California Independent System Operator, which runs the state’s electrical grid. The state has additional energy capacity at the moment “but blackouts, rolling, rotating outages are a possibility,” Mainzer said, calling additional conservation “absolutely essential.”
The CAISO site Tuesday morning showed California could fall more than 5,000 megawatts short of its power supply at peak demand, forecasted for 5:30 pm.
The danger of wildfires was extreme as scorching heat and low humidity turned brush to tinder. Four deaths were reported over the Labor Day weekend as some 4,400 firefighters battled 14 large fires around the state, with 45 new blazes on Sunday alone, said Anale Burlew, a deputy chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
CAISO also has issued a Flex Alert call for voluntary conservation between 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday, making seven alerts in as many days. Consumers were urged to keep air conditioners at 78 degrees or higher during the period and avoiding using major appliances such as ovens and dishwashers.
The efforts have worked to keep the lights on “but we have now entered the most intense phase of this heat wave” that could last into the week, and two to three times the level of conservation will be needed from people and businesses, Mainzer said.
Meanwhile, health officials advise you to stay out of the heat.
Posted by Jeff Lemucchi