The worst is yet to come.
With temperatures rising, an epic heat wave continued to put major pressure on California’s beleaguered electricity grid Friday, with managers of the state’s power grid warning that energy demands would peak early next week.
A Flex Alert was in effect for Friday from 4 to 9 p.m., marking the third straight day that the Independent System Operator was calling on Californians to turn up their thermostats to 78 degrees and postpone using heavy appliances.
Elliot Mainzer, the chief executive of the ISO, said the state avoided blackouts Thursday even though power consumption peaked at 47,357 megawatts — the highest since 2017. “Yesterday was a challenge for everyone,” he said in a video briefing.
A Flex Alert was called for Saturday from 4 to 9 p.m., the fourth straight day in which Californians were being asked to conserve.
Triple-digit temperatures were continuing to roast much of the West. The high temperature in parts of the Sacramento Valley was expected to hit 105 degrees Friday and could hit 115 degrees Monday and Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
“The hottest weather in this extended heat wave is still ahead of us,” Mainzer said. “Electricity conservation is going to be essential in keep the power flowing to California without interruption.”
The grid operator said power demands are expected to peak at 49,000 megawatts sometime Tuesday.
That would still be short of the all-time record of 50,270 consumed July 24, 2006. But California’s power portfolio has altered considerably since then — the state is far more dependent on solar power and other renewable sources, and when the sun goes down the grid becomes vulnerable to blackouts.
The state experienced two nights of rolling blackouts in August 2020 and barely avoided another round of blackouts in July 2021. Mindful of the risk of more power outages, Gov. Gavin Newsom this week persuaded the Legislature to loan up to $1.4 billion to PG&E Corp. postpone the scheduled 2025 shutdown of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. Diablo Canyon generates about 9% of the state’s electricity.
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