Power outages in California will likely increase in the coming days as the state enters the most brutal stretch of the current heat wave this week, officials said on Sunday.
Elliot Mainzer, president and CEO of Independent System Operator of California, said electricity demand is forecast to outpace supply beginning Monday night, and Tuesday’s prediction shows electricity demand at its all-time high.
“It’s going to be significantly more intense,” Mainzer told reporters.
The system operator is responsible for managing and maintaining the reliability of the electrical network, a daunting task during hot climates, when energy demands skyrocket due to the use of air conditioning in homes.
Grid operators have several options before an outage occurs, including turning to standby generators, buying more power from other states, and using so-called demand response programs, where people are paid for consuming less energy. Is. But to keep the lights on, Californians have to continue to conserve energy, as is the case with rising temperatures.
Most of the 39 million Californians will experience extremely hot weather. Temperatures are forecast to reach 115 °F (46 °C) for several days in the Central Valley. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, temperatures rose above 100 °F (38 °C), unusually warm for September.
From Wednesday, authorities and power companies have urged citizens to reduce energy consumption between 4:00 pm and 9:00 pm by keeping air conditioners at 25.5 degrees Celsius or higher and avoiding the use of appliances such as ovens and dishwashers. consume. These flexible alerts have allowed network operators to avoid blackouts so far.
Mainzer said the state used about 44,000 MW of electricity on Saturday night. By Tuesday, that figure is expected to exceed 50,000 megawatts, approaching the record level of energy use set in 2006. But instead of testing the power grid’s capacity, the state will curb demand to avoid that figure. ,
“Our goal is to make sure we don’t hit that number,” Mainzer said.
During the day, California’s power grid runs on a mix of solar power and natural gas, as well as some electricity imports from other states. But the solar energy starts decreasing during the afternoon and evening, which are the hottest time of the day in some parts of the state.
Several million Californians lost power in August 2020 amid hot weather. The state had avoided a similar scenario last summer. On Friday, Newsom signed legislation that could allow the state’s last nuclear power plant to remain open after its 2025 shutdown, to ensure more electricity for the power grid.
As of Sunday night, nuclear power accounted for about 5% of California’s energy supply.