Week-long heat wave expected to strain power grid
California Takes Steps to Keep Lights On During Immediate Emergency and Continues to Accelerate Clean Energy Transition
SACRAMENTO — Beginning Wednesday, California and the western United States will experience extreme heat that will strain the grid with increased energy demands. In response, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency to temporarily increase power generation and reduce demand. The California Independent System Operator has called a Flex Alert for today, August 31, asking Californians to reduce their electricity use between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. to save energy and reduce the risk of outages.
The state’s actions to accelerate our transition to clean energy put approximately 4,000 megawatts on the grid that were unavailable in July 2020. Since then, the state has also developed emergency measures, including adding generators and a strategic power reserve, supplemental purchases, and demand response to produce 2,000 megawatts available to meet emergency conditions like those we face today. However, as this heat wave affects the entire western United States, limited energy resources are stretched across multiple states. The prolonged drought has also significantly reduced the state’s ability to generate hydroelectric power. Additionally, the duration of this heat wave is different from those experienced in recent history, increasing the length of time the grid will face peak demand.
“This is just the latest reminder of the reality of the climate crisis and its impact on the daily lives of Californians,” Governor Newsom said. “As we take steps to pull ourselves out of the immediate crisis, this reinforces the need for urgent action to end our reliance on fossil fuels that are destroying our climate and making these heat waves hotter and more frequent.”
Governor Newsom announces emergency measures to increase energy supply during this week’s heat wave.
This emergency proclamation will allow power stations to generate additional electricity, authorizes the use of emergency generators to reduce the amount of energy they need to draw from the grid during peak demand periods. energy during this heat wave, and allows ships in California ports to reduce their consumption of grid electricity. These are emergency temporary measures, and the state will implement additional mitigation measures to counter the increased emissions they will cause.
Temperatures are expected to start rising on Wednesday August 31, intensify over the holiday weekend and extend through Wednesday September 7. In what will likely be a record-breaking heat wave in the West, temperatures in northern California are expected to be 10 to 20 degrees warmer. than normal, and Southern California temperatures are expected to be 10 to 18 degrees warmer than normal.
The California independent system operator called on Californians to reduce their energy use through Flex Alert today and will likely issue additional Flex Alerts in the coming days. For the coming week, and especially Sunday and Monday, Californians should use their air conditioning to pre-cool their homes before 4 p.m. and use major appliances like the washer and dryer during this time. From 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Californians should set their thermostat to 78 degrees or higher, avoid using major appliances, and turn off unnecessary lights unless it’s harmful to them.
Today’s action comes amid climate shifts in weather across the western United States, making heat waves more frequent and severe, harming public health and critical infrastructure. Extreme heat is particularly at risk for workers, children, the elderly, historically underserved and overstretched communities, and people with underlying health conditions – more information on workers’ rights and resources for workers can be found HERE and HERE. Resources for Californians experiencing extreme heat, including safety tips and other information, can be found HERE. A map of cooling centers is available HERE.
The intense heat is dangerous for everyone and can be fatal, especially when extreme temperatures last for more than two days. Factors that increase risk include advanced age, chronic and serious illnesses, and environmental overexposure (eg, certain jobs or homelessness). If you are caring for someone at increased risk, please:
- Stay in regular contact with this person, make sure they can access air-conditioned buildings (e.g. cooling centers, public buildings) and stay hydrated
- Watch out for heat-related illnesses, especially heatstroke, and call 9-1-1 if needed
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Wear sunscreen. Try to be less active during the hottest part of the day. Rest often and pace yourself
- Remember to protect your pets from the heat and never leave a child or pet in the car, even if the windows are partially open.