Rotating Power Outages Avoided Thanks to ‘Lower Temperatures and Conservation'

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The California Independent System Operator said rotating power outages are no longer expected Monday night " thanks to lower temperatures and conservation."

PG&E said earlier in the day that they were "likely" to happen in the afternoon and evening as sweltering heat continued to tax the state's power grid.

It wasn't immediately clear where exactly the outages would occur, only that the outages were estimated to last anywhere from one to two hours, the utility said.

But around 8 p.m., California ISO said otherwise.

California ISO CEO and President Steve Berberich said the state is short about 4,400 megawatts, which equates to about 3.3 million homes, and those affected would expect to lose power for about two hours.

"Encouraging all customers to prepare for the possibility of rolling blackouts, because we know we’re going to see extremely hot temperatures over the next couple of days," said Jeff Smith from PG&E.

In emergency situations like this, California ISO tells utilities how much power is needed to be reduced. PG&E says it's given little notice, making it difficult to warn customers ahead of time.

As for what neighborhoods are impacted, it's a simple numbers game spread out over PG&E's territory.

"Once you know the megawatts, you can look at the different blocks and recognize, ‘okay, these are the different blocks we’re going to need to take out in order to meet the expectation or the directive of the ISO,'" said Smith.

On Monday, Governor Newsom issued an emergency proclamation in an attempt to reduce the need for blackouts. Large energy users are now shifting to their backup sources during peak hours. Newsom says it's "unacceptable" that the state failed to predict and plan for this crisis.

"We'll get to the bottom of it … that's why the investigation into what happened and its implications for the future will be done swiftly and immediately and we will lay out in detailed terms what we're going to do to make sure it doesn't happen again," he said.

The grid operator ordered the first rolling blackouts in nearly 20 years Friday as unusually hot weather overwhelmed the state’s electrical grid. The state’s three biggest utilities — PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric — turned off power to more than 410,000 homes and businesses for about an hour at a time until the emergency declaration ended 3 1/2 hours later.

A second, but shorter, rolling outage came Saturday evening, cutting power to more than 200,000 customers. Californians packed beaches and river banks over the weekend to cool off from scorching triple-digit temperatures that raised the risk of more wildfires and fears of the coronavirus spreading.

The California ISO has issued a statewide Flex Alert from 3 to 10 p.m. every day through Wednesday. Californians are asked to conserve energy during these times.

In order to save energy, PG&E has released the following tips:

  • Set the thermostat to 78 degrees when at home. If you're not home, turn it up to 85 degrees or turn it off.
  • Use a ceiling fan.
  • Cover windows.
  • Avoid using the oven and if possible cook on the stove, use a microwave or grill outside.
  • Limit the opening of refrigerators.
  • Clean clothes and dishes early in the day.
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