Monday, August 17, 2020

UPDATE: No Rolling Power Outages Tonight

Posted By on Mon, Aug 17, 2020 at 4:28 PM


PG&E reports that "based on current forecasts for electricity supply and demand," the California Independent System Operator indicates there will be no outages this evening.


A record breaking heat wave across the western United States has California’s electrical grid gasping for power.

The California Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages the state’s grid, issued another statewide Flex Alert, asking for consumers to reduce their power usage from 3 to 10 p.m. today through Wednesday.

Temperatures have rocketed to new heights the last few days throughout the state. On Sunday, Death Valley had what will likely be confirmed as the highest temperature ever recorded on earth – 130 degrees. And consumers have been turning on their air conditioning in droves.

The ISO points out that the hours between 3 and 10 are when temperatures are high and solar power (a major source of energy for California) is increasingly limited by the coming of darkness. PG&E is urging customers to conserve power and warns that rolling blackouts could result.

“Outages are estimated to last one to two hours,” a press release from the company states. According to an email circulating in a Humboldt County government office, “We got a message from PG&E. … It sounds like we may have some power outages between 3PM and 10 PM From 8/17/2020 to 8/21/2020. They are hoping it will be for maybe 2 hour periods.” 

Deanna Contreras, spokesperson for PG&E, said it was unclear if  Humboldt County would be hit by an outage.

“We don’t know yet. We do think that rotating power outages are likely [statewide.]" She said that California’s ISO could notify them at any time and “we have to execute [rolling blackouts] withing 10 minutes. … We don’t yet have word where that will be.”

Contreras acknowledged that much of Humboldt County has cooler temperatures than communities elsewhere, but, she said, “We still want Humboldt County to do what they can to reduce their power usage.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom has criticized California’s independent energy agencies that regulate the state’s energy sector for not preventing the outages. He called their failure to anticipate needing this last weekend’s rolling blackouts as “unacceptable and unbefitting” of California.

See tips from PG&E on how to reduce energy use here and the full press release from the Governor’s Office below that:

PG&E Tips to Save Energy and Reduce Usage
PG&E strongly urges all customers to conserve energy through next Wednesday. Raise the thermostat: Cool homes and use air conditioners more during morning hours. Set the thermostat to 78 degrees when at home during the rest of the day, health permitting. Turn it up to 85 degrees or turn it off when not at home.

Use a ceiling fan: Turn on a ceiling fan when using the air conditioner, which will allow the thermostat to be raised about 4 degrees to save on cooling costs with no reduction in comfort. Turn off fans and lights when you leave the room. Cover windows: Use shade coverings and awnings so the air conditioner won’t have to work as hard to cool the home. Avoid using the oven: Instead, cook on the stove, use a microwave or grill outside. Limit the opening of refrigerators, which are major users of electricity in most homes. The average refrigerator is opened 33 times a day.

Clean clothes and dishes early: Use large energy-consuming appliances like washing machines and dishwashers earlier in the day or late at night after 10:00 pm.

PG&E Tips to Stay Safe and Cool Plan ahead:
Check the weather forecast to prepare for hot days. Keep an emergency contact list: Keep a list of emergency phone numbers. Have a buddy system: Check in on elderly or frail people. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water, even when you are not thirsty. Stay cool: Take a cool shower or bath and wear lightweight, loose, light-colored clothing.

Stay safe: Stay out of direct sunlight and avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages. PG&E also funds the operation of existing county- or city-run cooling centers throughout the state. These centers fill a critical need for those who might not have the means to cool and shelter themselves from prolonged hot temperatures.

To find a cooling center near you, please call your local city or county government, or call PG&E’s toll-free cooling center locator line at 1-877-474-3266 or visit PG&E does not anticipate initiating any Public Safety Power Shutoff events this week. Any power outages that occur during this hot spell are not PSPS events. For more tips on how to stay safe and save energy this summer, visit

Press release from the Office of California Governor Newsom:  
Governor Newsom held all-hands meeting with top energy advisors and agency leads on the heat-induced energy shortages In letter to California’s independent energy agencies that oversee and regulate the state’s energy sector, Governor calls failure to anticipate and protect against weekend’s service disruptions “unacceptable and unbefitting” of California With severity of heat wave and demand on energy expected to increase, state officials worked throughout the weekend to decrease energy usage and bring more energy resources online Energy experts are asking residents and businesses this week to use AC early in the day, pre-set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher and avoid appliance use from 3-10 P.M.

As the West Coast continues to experience an historic heat wave and related energy shortages, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an emergency proclamation designed to free up energy capacity and reduce the need for temporary energy service disruptions. The proclamation temporarily allows some energy users and utilities to use backup energy sources to relieve pressure on the grid during peak times during the energy emergency. The text of the proclamation can be found here and a copy can be found here.

Over the weekend, state officials worked aggressively to bring more energy resources online, including increased generation from sources like the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the California State Water Project and investor-owned utilities. The state has also worked with industrial and commercial consumers to reduce energy consumption during peak hours and to increase public awareness around energy saving measures. All-hands energy meeting The Governor yesterday convened an all-hands meeting with California Independent System Operator (CAISO), the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the California Energy Commission (CEC), the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and senior administration officials as the state and the entire West Coast anticipates serious power shortages as the heat wave intensifies over the coming week.

Governor Newsom demands investigation

Following the meeting, Governor Newsom sent a letter to CAISO, the CPUC and CEC demanding an investigation into the service disruptions that occurred over the weekend and the energy agencies’ failure to predict and mitigate them. “I write today to express my deep concern about the broadscale de-energizations experienced by too many Californians on August 14 and 15th. These blackouts, which occurred without prior warning or enough time for preparation, are unacceptable and unbefitting of the nation’s largest and most innovative state,” Governor Newsom wrote. “Residents, communities and other governmental organizations did not receive sufficient warning that these de-energizations could occur.

Collectively, energy regulators failed to anticipate this event and to take necessary actions to ensure reliable power to Californians. This cannot stand. California residents and businesses deserve better from their government.” Governor Newsom convenes all-hands meeting with energy advisors and agency heads on service disruptions caused by the heat wave. Guidance to residents and businesses to conserve power Yesterday, CAISO issued a statewide Flex Alert calling for voluntary electricity conservation, beginning Sunday and extending through Wednesday.

The Flex Alerts are in effect from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. each day. CAISO highlighted three simple actions individuals and businesses can take to reduce energy consumption: Set your thermostat to 78° or higher between 3 and 10 P.M. Refrain from major appliance use between 3 and 10 P.M. Turn off unnecessary lights and appliances Additional steps and guidance for individuals & businesses: Adjust Your Thermostat During peak hours or when you’re not home, remember to set your thermostat at 78° or higher. Setting your air conditioner 5° higher can save up to 20 percent on cooling costs.

Pre-cool your home by running air conditioning at 72 degrees in the early part of the day (when it is more efficient) then turn your system to 78 or higher during the hottest part of the day when demand is the highest. Use smart or programmable features to help maintain energy savings when you’re not home.

Close Windows and Doors Keep windows and doors closed to prevent the loss of cooled or heated air. On summer nights, open windows to let cooler air in when safe. In the morning before the day starts to heat up, close windows and blinds to keep warm air out. Tilt blinds up and close drapes and shades on windows that receive direct sunlight.

Smart Energy Use
Turn off unnecessary lighting and use task or desktop lamps with LEDs instead of overhead lights. Enable “power management” on all computers and turn off when not in use. Unplug phone charges, power strips (those without a switch) and other equipment when not in use. Taken together, these small items can use as much power as your refrigerator.

Access and Functional Needs
Check in on neighbors, friends and family who may be at risk. Charge medical devices in off hours and have back up plan for if the power goes out. In addition to traditional community support channels, individuals with access and functional needs should reach out to local government for assistance. Contact local utilities companies if you are dependent on power for assistive devices.

Major Appliance Use
Postpone using major appliances like the oven, dishwasher, clothes washer, and dryer until cooler times of the day to avoid heating up your home. Run your dishwasher and clothes washer only when full. Wait until after 9 p.m. to use these and other major appliances. When possible, wash clothes in cold water. About 90 percent of the energy used in a clothes washer goes to water heating.

Clean or Replace Your Filters
A dirty filter forces your air conditioner and furnace to work harder, wasting money, using more energy or natural gas.

Adjust Your Water Heater
Turn your water heater down to 120° or the “normal” setting. Water heating accounts for about 13 percent of home energy costs. Conservation Programs Consider participating in your utility’s demand response program. These voluntary programs are short, temporary measures to reduce energy consumption when power supplies are critically low and a Flex Alert has been issued. Contact your local electric utility to learn about your utility’s program and incentives they may offer to participate.
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