PG&E warns of more rolling outages amid California heat wave

Cornelia Mascio
Agosto 16, 2020

The ISO called a Flex Alert, a voluntary call to consumers to conserve electricity, from 3 p.m.to 10 p.m. Consumers are urged during those times to set air conditioner thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, turn off unnecessary lights, and defer use of major appliances. Power was restored to most customers within a few hours.

"Extreme heat throughout the West has increased electricity usage, causing a strain on the power grid". Before that, Tropical Storm Isaias darkened homes from the Carolinas to CT.

Temperatures were 10 to 20 degrees above normal in some areas, Gonzales said. That's driving up power demand to extreme levels, making it hard for generating plants to keep pace.

Excessive electricity use puts a strain on the state's electrical grid and if conditions don't improve, the CAISO may declare a Stage 3 emergency, which would result in rotating outages. Then the system unexpectedly lost generation, and it become clear it couldn't meet demand, said Anne Gonzales, a spokeswoman for the California ISO said in an interview.

The California ISO declared the emergency shortly after 6:30 p.m. and directed utilities around the state to shed their power loads. By 7:51 p.m., the grid had stabilized, and utilities began restoring 1,000 megawatts of electricity that had been taken out of service. Rotating outages are called by CAISO, and power utilities are required to act when demand on the statewide electric grid is expected to exceed available energy supply.

The first customers were impacted at approximately 6:35 p.m. Friday.

On Friday, the state's grid operator ordered blackouts after a 500-megawatt generator tripped offline unexpectedly while a 750-megawatt unit was already down.

The heat and the blackouts are hitting at an especially vulnerable time, with Covid-19 forcing millions to remain at home.

PG&E, Southern California Edison (NYSE:EIX) and San Diego Gas and Electric (NYSE:SRE) last night turned off power to more than 410K homes and businesses for about an hour at a time. The eastern U.S.is just emerging from July temperatures that were expected to topple daily records in Manhattan and Boston dating to the 19th century.

Last month was tied for the world's second-hottest July on record and the hottest ever in the northern hemisphere, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The outages are not like the public safety power outages in the past, PG&E said Saturday. There were additional outages reported in American Canyon and Alameda.

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