Power Outage Impacts Bay Area Amid Statewide Flex Alert

Thousands of PG&E customers in the Bay Area were plunged into darkness early Tuesday morning, but crews were making significant progress on repairs by Tuesday evening.

By 5:30 p.m., 2,500 PG&E customers were still without power, with a majority of the outages reported in the East Bay. That total was down from roughly 10,000 just 30 minutes earlier, according to PG&E.

The outages come as PG&E customers across California have been asked to conserve electricity through Wednesday because of the heat wave.

The California Independent System Operator, which oversees the operation of the state's bulk electric system, transmission lines and electricity market, on Monday issued a statewide Flex Alert, asking people to voluntarily conserve electricity.

The goal is to save 500 megawatts to avoid widespread blackouts, the agency said. And that means everyone must pitch in. Electric customers are urged to conserve electricity from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.

"We find that 500 megawatts shaved off is enough to get us over the critical time," said Anne Gonzales, a CAISO spokeswoman. "If consumers can respond, that will take a lot of the stress off of the grid."

Conservation is especially recommended during the late afternoon, when air conditioners are typically at peak use, officials said.

According to CAISO officials, electric customers can help avoid power outages by turning off all unnecessary lights, using major appliances before 2 p.m. or after 9 p.m., and setting air conditioners to 78 degrees or higher.

Chaitali, who owns a South Bay Airbnb home, said she’s making adjustments to save power and still keep her house cool during the temporary flex alert.

"I've informed the guest a couple of times to make sure their lights are off when they leave the house," she said.

Chaitali also is making sure the blinds are closed and is managing the air conditioning via an app on her phone.

During times of higher temperatures, demand on the power grid can be strained as air conditioner use increases. Peak usage for Tuesday and Wednesday is expected to exceed 47,000 megawatts each day in the CAISO service territory, which serves roughly 80 percent of the state's electricity customers, officials said.

NBC Bay Area's Rick Boone contributed to this report.

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