As California faces record demand for energy, officials have resorted to begging residents to use less electricity as rolling blackouts become a possibility.
As the state faces a seventh consecutive “Flex Alert,” where residents will be asked to conserve electricity between 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., officials say the move will be ineffective unless it’s doubled or tripled.
Meanwhile, an “Energy Emergency Alert” at level was declared by the California Independent System Operator (ISO) on Monday, one level below the stage at which blackouts would be required.
Four natural gas plants were brought online to help with demand, as wind and solar power fail to meet the state’s needs.
It also imported power from the Pacific Northwest, which did not get scorched by the heat California did.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported:
On Tuesday, the state is predicting a 51,000-megawatt load. Officials issued an emergency energy watch for 5 to 9 p.m., a step that encourages market providers to offer supplemental energy or savings, or both.
So far the Flex Alerts have worked, as state residents have saved 600 to 700 megawatts in recent days. State regulators have asked consumers to avoid running appliances, set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher and turn off all unnecessary lights during those peak hours.
If a Stage 3 [of Energy Emergency Alert] is reached and power must be cut — something that is highly unlikely late Monday evening but could be a possibility again Tuesday — state regulators will ask utilities to determine the best way to drop their usage, probably rotating across systems, hopefully for short durations, [ISO CEO Elliot] Mainzer said.
Authorities reminded residents to turn off lights and appliances and avoid charging electric vehicles – the same cars regulators will force residents to buy in 2035.
Demand is expected to peak at 5:30 p.m., as solar power begins to become unavailable, The Associated Press reported:
On Tuesday morning, the CAISO site showed California could drop more than 5,000 megawatts short of its power supply.
California’s energy grid runs on a mix of mostly solar and natural gas during the day, along with some imports of power from other states. But solar power begins to fall off during the late afternoon and into the evening, which is the hottest time of day in some parts of the state. And some of the aging natural gas plants California relies on for backup power aren’t as reliable in hot weather.
On Monday, California used around 49,000 megawatts and is expected to use more than 51,000 megawatts of power Tuesday.
The current record for power use in a single day is just over 50,000 megawatts.
The state legislature agreed with Newsom’s request to keep the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant — the state’s last — open until 2030 rather than shutting it down as planned in 2025.
Democrats blame climate change for the heat wave and the energy shortage.
But critics blame the state’s efforts to rush renewable energy sources and phase out nuclear and natural gas.