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California Governor Proclaims State Of Emergency With Extreme Heat, Increased Power Demand

Against the backdrop of California and the western U.S. experiencing extreme heat that strained the grid with increased energy demands, California Governor Gavin Newsom on Aug. 31 proclaimed a state of emergency to temporarily increase energy production and reduce demand. 

The emergency proclamation will allow power plants to generate additional electricity, permits use of backup generators to reduce the amount of energy they need to draw from the grid during the periods of peak energy demand during this heat wave, and allows ships in California ports to reduce their consumption of electricity from the grid.

These are emergency, temporary measures, and the state will implement additional mitigation measures to counteract the increased emissions they will cause, Newsom’s office said.

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) called a Flex Alert for August 31, asking Californians to reduce their electricity consumption between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. to save power and reduce the risk of outages.

On Sunday, Sept. 4, CAISO said it was stepping up its call for consumers to lower electricity use in the afternoons and evenings to avoid outages.

“Starting tomorrow, this multi-day event is going to get much more intense,” said ISO President and CEO Elliot Mainzer, on Sept. 4.

“We are facing a load forecast of 48,817 megawatts and energy deficits between 2,000 and 4,000 megawatts for Monday, resulting in the highest likelihood of rotating outages we have seen so far this summer. Because of the increasingly extreme conditions, we will need significant additional consumer demand reductions during the hours of 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday and access to all the emergency tools that the state and utilities have established for an extreme event like this one.”

CAISO said the heat wave is historic for both its temperatures and its duration.

Heat advisories and excessive heat warnings were in place across the West, with daytime high temperatures forecast to be 10-20 degrees above normal.

Electricity customers’ actions to cut their demand have already resulted in an estimated 600 to700-megawatt savings in recent days and are expected to be even more important and impactful through the next several days, CAISO said on Sept. 4.

Monday, Sept. 5 and Tuesday, Sept. 6, were projected to be the most challenging days yet, with the highest temperatures forecast on Tuesday and projected electricity demand of 50,099 megawatts (MW).

The peak load on Sept. 3 was 44,123 MW, and the forecast for Sept. 4 was 45,776 MW.

Grid operators were closely monitoring wildfires for potential threats to generators and transmission wires, and fire officials warned that more fires could break out in the coming days, due to the prolonged high heat and dry conditions.

Several generators were already out of service, making supplies tighter.

Consumer and commercial demand response, including Flex Alerts, has been helping to extend tight resources at critical hours so far, the grid operator said.