California heat wave: PG&E warns of possible rotating outages

For a second day, California’s largest utility is warning customers to prepare for the possibility of rotating power outages as a brutal heatwave continues to ravage the state.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said Wednesday it had notified about 525,277 customers to prepare for potential outages.

As of this afternoon, the California Independent Systems Operator, which manages the state’s power grid, has not asked utilities to implement rotating outages, but the San Francisco-based company has opted to notify customers “out of caution,” according to a statement by PG&E.

If implemented, the rotating outages would affect customers for one to two hours, the utility said.

PG&E officials said they are urging customers to continue conserving electricity after the ISO issued a flex alert for the ninth straight day.

During a Flex Alert, customers are asked to reduce electricity consumption from 4pm to 9pm by setting their thermostats to 22 degrees or higher if their health allows. opening windows and doors and using fans to cool their home when the temperature outside is cooler; do not use large devices; turn off unnecessary lights; and not to charge electric vehicles while the alarm is on.

“Widespread heat events pose unique challenges to the state’s power grid,” the PG&E statement said. “In addition to the power supply concerns driving Flex Alerts, sustained high temperatures can damage electrical equipment, which can lead to local outages.”

On Tuesday night, the Golden State narrowly averted widespread rolling blackouts.

Earlier that day, ISO officials prepared local utilities to implement rolling blackouts if conditions didn’t improve as power demands neared record levels.

Officials were forecasting peak demand of 51,146 megawatts, but as of Tuesday night, California had set an all-time record of 52,061 megawatts.

Then, at around 5:45 p.m., an emergency alert hit millions of Californians’ cellphones: “Conserve energy now to protect public health and safety.”

The warnings worked, Elliot Mainzer, ISO president and chief executive officer, said on Wednesday.

A load reduction of about 2,000 megawatts over the next 20 to 30 minutes “brought us back off the edge,” he said.

As of late Wednesday afternoon, the ISO had issued a Level 2 Energy Emergency Alert. At Tier 3, the grid operator can order rotating shutdowns as needed to bring demand back into line with available supply. California heat wave: PG&E warns of possible rotating outages

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