With Extreme Heat Wave Impacting California and the West, State Grid Operator Warns that Rotating Power Outages Might Be Needed
The state’s grid operator issued a Grid Warning this afternoon indicating that some Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) customers might face rotating outages between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. this evening, for a period of about one to two hours.
The California Independent System Operator (CAISO), which oversees the larger power grid and balances energy demand with supply, says that the demand for electricity this afternoon and evening, mostly from air conditioners in use due to the triple-digit heat, could exceed the available supply. To be clear, CAISO has not called for rotating outages at this time.
If demand exceeds supply, at the direction of the state’s grid operator, PG&E and other energy companies in the state could be asked to turn off power in order to help prevent larger outages to the grid.
If the CAISO indicates that power needs to be turned off, power could be out for about one to two hours for each block. Up to approximately 121,000 PG&E customers could be impacted. Visit www.pge.com/rotatingoutages to see if your neighborhood might be affected.
In light of the grid operator’s warning, utilities urge Californians to continue to conserve power until 10 p.m. tonight to reduce power use as supplies continue to run tight during the peak period. The grid operator issued a Flex Alert, which asks for voluntary conservation, for 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. today, and for the same time period on Friday.
Rotating outages are not Public Safety Power Shutoffs, which are conducted during specific high fire-threat conditions.
PG&E is notifying customers who might experience these potential rotating outages, which would occur across PG&E's service area.
PG&E already has implemented programs with key customers to reduce power usage today but asks for more voluntary efforts by customers to reduce overall power use.
PG&E’s in-house meteorologists forecasted daytime high temperatures in the 105- to 110-degree range through the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys, with 90s to near 100 degrees possible across inland Bay Area valleys.
Separate from potential rotating outages, high temperatures have led to heat-related outages in some locations. PG&E has hundreds of crews responding to make the needed repairs.
Energy conservation tips
Here are ways for customers to reduce energy use during the day:
- Pre-cool your home or workspace by lowering your thermostat. Turn it off if you will be away from home.
- Use a fan instead of air conditioning when possible.
- Use major appliances, like your dishwasher or washer and dryer, early in the morning
- Charge your electronic devices before the late afternoon
- Set your pool pump to run overnight instead of during the day.
- Keep your refrigerator full (with bottles of water if nothing else) and unplug your second refrigerator if you have one.
And, during the critical hours of 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., consumers are asked to:
- Adjust your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher, after cooling your home to below-normal levels in the morning.
- Don’t charge your electric vehicle until after 10 p.m.
- Draw drapes and turn off unnecessary lighting.
- Limit the opening of refrigerators, a major user of electricity in most homes. The average refrigerator is opened 33 times a day.
- Keep refrigerator full (with bottles of water if nothing else) and unplug your second refrigerator if you have one.
- Avoid using major appliances, such as your oven. Instead, cook on the stove, use a microwave or grill outside.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.