California avoids massive heat outages.
A temperature sign at Eldorado Savings Bank during a heat wave in Sacramento, California on Tuesday, September 6, 2022.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
California avoided rolling blackouts after electricity demand hit an all-time high on Tuesday night due to extreme heatwaves across the state.
The California independent system operator, which oversees the state’s power grid, declared the highest level of power emergency on Tuesday, a move that precedes the rolling blackout order and allows the state to access emergency power supplies.
The Office of Emergency Services also sent out a text alert to residents asking them to save energy. Around 8:00 p.m. PT Tuesday, the operator downgraded its Alert Level 3 and said “preserving consumer rights has played a big role in protecting the reliability of the power grid.”
Sacramento, the state capital, reached 116 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday, surpassing a record set nearly 100 years ago, according to the National Weather Service. Nearly half a dozen cities in the San Francisco Bay Area have equalized or set record numbers, according to the agency.
Flame retardant is dropped on the Fairview Fire near Hemet, California on September 6, 2022.
David Swanson | Reuters
CAISO reported that Tuesday’s peak electricity consumption reached 52,061 MW, surpassing the previous high of 50,270 MW on July 24, 2006.
Although the operator did not order rolling blackouts, three cities in Northern California experienced brief power outages. As of 7:00 a.m. PT Wednesday, nearly 8,000 customers in California were without power. according to PowerOutage.com.
Gov. Gavin Newsom warned in a Twitter video Tuesday that temperatures in California were unprecedented and the state is heading for the worst heat wave on record in September.
“The risk of outages is real and immediate,” Newsom said. “It’s no surprise that these triple-digit temperatures across much of the state are driving record grid demand.”
The Governor urged residents to pre-cool their homes earlier in the day when more electricity is available and to turn thermostats up to 78 degrees or higher after 4 pm PT. “Everyone should do their part to help revitalize for a few more days,” Newsom said.
The possibility of massive power outages reflects how power systems in California and other states are becoming more vulnerable to climate-related disasters such as heat waves, hurricanes and wildfires.
California, which has set itself the goal of going completely renewable by 2045, has closed many gas-fired plants over the past few years, leaving the state increasingly dependent on solar power.
Scientists said earlier this year that a megadrought in the American West has led to two of the region’s driest decades in at least 1,200 years, and anthropogenic climate change has exacerbated the problem. Conditions are likely to continue until 2022 and will continue for many years to come.