Authorities are pleading with Californians to reduce their energy use

As California enters the worst phase of a historic heat wave, authorities on Monday issued their most urgent appeal to residents to voluntarily reduce energy use or face the prospect of power outages. electricity.

“We need two to three times more conservation than we have experienced to maintain power with these historically high temperatures and demand,” warned Elliot Mainzer, chief executive of the California Independent System Operator (ISO ), which runs the state’s power grid, at an early morning press conference.

Already scorching temperatures are expected to soar to 115 degrees in many parts of the state on Monday, including inland areas of Los Angeles. Records in Fresno, Merced and other parts of the Central Valley will likely be broken Monday afternoon, only to be broken again Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

In response to an initial Flex Alert issued on Wednesday, Californians reduced their energy consumption by about 2%. But Mainzer said two or three times that it was necessary given the expected temperatures.

“Blackouts, spinning blackouts are a possibility today and some of the effort by consumers to really lean in and take those actions after 4 p.m. today is absolutely essential,” he said.

The key to avoiding power cuts on Monday and Tuesday, officials say, is to reduce power consumption during peak consumption times: late afternoons and evenings. In response to what officials said was unprecedented power demand, the Flex Alert period was extended an additional hour on Monday and Tuesday to cover 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

“It’s not about being hot all day,” said Alice Reynolds, president of the California Public Utility Commission. She encouraged Californians to “pre-cool” their homes by turning the air conditioning down in the morning, then raising the thermostats to 78 degrees in the late afternoon.

In addition to monitoring their thermostats, residents are asked to avoid using appliances and turning off unnecessary lights. Southern California Edison has asked its users to consider charging phones, laptops and electric vehicles by 4 p.m., according to an email to customers.

“We are in an extraordinary event,” California Energy Commissioner Siva Gunda said. He said Tuesday’s forecast demand from the network – 51,000 megawatts – “would be the highest in September that we have ever seen.”

To bolster its own electricity supply, California is importing power from utility companies in the Pacific Northwest, which was spared the heat wave.

The dangerous heat will begin to subside on Wednesday, but is expected to remain dangerously high through the weekend.

“We’re going to continue to see a long-lasting heat wave across the state throughout this week, and that’s going to lead to widespread heat impacts or what you’ll commonly hear is high to very high heat hazard.” , said NWS meteorologist Sarah Rogowski. .

Although many gatherings are planned for Labor Day, public health officials have said families and organizations should consider postponing or canceling outdoor activities.

“It’s not over, we still have a few days. It’s going to be tough,” said Dr. Tomas Aragon, the state’s public health officer.

In Los Angeles, residents flocked to malls, chill centers and the coasts, where temperatures also hovered in the 90s.

At the Mid Valley Senior Center in Panorama City, a dozen older women sat down to chat, drink coffee and play Lotería in the cool air-conditioned gymnasium on Monday morning. A large fan blowing in the corner added relief from the scorching heat outside.

“Hello!” newcomers shouted in Spanish as they walked around with bags of snacks and bottles of water. Staff said about 10 people came on Saturday and Sunday each, with the majority being seniors and people from the homeless community.

The heat and dry bones posed a challenge to fire crews across California. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection had more than 4,000 firefighters working on 14 large fires across the state.

Just before noon, a fire broke out in a rural area east of the town of Ramona, San Diego County.

It quickly spread to 50 acres in the community of Witch Creek, prompting the evacuation of people and livestock from a corridor along Highway 78. About 150 firefighters largely brought the blaze under control.

But a wind-driven ember ignited another blaze outside the perimeter, and by mid-afternoon helicopters were dropping water on the spot in an attempt to smother the flames.

Los Angeles Times

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