California power grid operator expects no ‘stage emergencies’ Saturday as heat wave strains system

Local News

FILE -A car drives passed a power station in Mill Valley, California as a statewide blackout continues on October, 10, 2019. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images – FILE)

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — California’s electric grid operator said Saturday afternoon that no “stage emergencies” are planned at this time, following a warning earlier in a day that rolling power outages could be needed as the state faces a heat wave and spiking demand.

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) said in a tweet they would be able to cover electrical demand.

Earlier in the day, Pacific Gas & Electric warned customers that it may be forced by CAISO to start rotating power outages Saturday evening if there wasn’t enough electrical supply in the grid to meet demand as California faces a heat wave that is expected to continue through the weekend and well into next week.

The call comes after rolling power outages occurred across California on Friday for the first time since 2001 as the hot temperatures strained its electrical system.

CAISO had issued a Grid Warning Notice Saturday due to the hot weather across the state coupled with cloud cover in Southern California impacting solar power collection, said PG&E spokesman J.D. Guidi. No final decisions have been made to proceed with rotating outages by CAISO at this time.

Other power utilities in the state may be requested to take similar measures.

PG&E called on customers to take immediate steps to reduce their power usage until late Saturday evening, Guidi said. Any power outages that occur during the heat wave are not public safety outages.

The utility is encouraging customers to conserve energy by doing the following tips:

  • Adjust your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher or turn it off if you will be away from home. Use a fan instead of air conditioning when possible.
  • Draw drapes and turn off unnecessary lighting.
  • Keep refrigerator full (with bottles of water if nothing else) and unplug the second refrigerator.
  • Avoid using electrical appliances and devices. Put off tasks like vacuuming, laundry, dish washing and computer time until after dinner (6 p.m.).
  • Set your pool pump to run overnight instead of during the day.

Guidi also warned that transformer failure is the top cause of heat-related outages that may fall outside of any direction from CAISO to initiate rotating power shut offs. During heat waves with high overnight temperatures, transformers are unable to cool down. This places stress on the transformer’s components, and they can become fatigued and can fail.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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