Residents Asked to Reduce Power During the California Heat Wave

A blistering heat wave over the next several days is prompting the California Independent System Operator to issue a Flex Alert for Friday, which means residents are being asked to reduce power usage from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.

California is expected to have record-breaking heat, up to 10-20 degrees above normal in some areas.

At La Tapatia restaurant in Martinez, they like heat in the food but not so much in the kitchen.

“It’s difficult. I tell you the guys in the kitchen they should be awarded special hazard pay, cause it gets very warm in the kitchen,” said Ernesto Guerrero, the restaurant owner.

Guerrero, the restaurant owner, had a small air-conditioning unit installed Thursday. He says without indoor dining, they are able to save on cooling, but it’s hard for restaurants to conserve much more during dinner hour.

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“We ventilate the place prior to opening up. We turn on the air conditioners last, because not only do we want to conserve energy but it’s also costly. Stoves and refrigeration we can’t do much about,” said Guerrero.

The main concern is people running air conditioners longer will put a strain on the power grid. Power supplies also could be even tighter, as cloud cover is expected to cause a drop in solar power.

“The cloud cover obviously reduces the solar output and so that further tightens our electricity supplies,” said Anne Gonzales, a California ISO spokeswoman.

CAL-ISO says by federal law, they must maintain power reserves, so if demand outstrips supply, there might be outages.

“We’re asking to conserve some now so electricity can keep flowing,” said Gonzales.

Conservation during the pandemic presents a new challenge, as many families are using electronic devices such as tablets, cell phones and computers working from home, and learning from home.

“What we are asking is people take simple steps that may help,” said Tamar Sarkissian, a PG&E spokeswoman.

PG&E is positioning crews in the East and South Bay where temperatures are expected to be hottest.

“So that should there be power outages we are prepared to respond to them,” said Sarkissian.

PG&E recommendations include:

  • Not using large appliances such as washers, dryers, vacuum cleaners, and dishwashers during the peak hours
  • If you leave the house set the thermostat to 78 degrees or higher
  • Use a fan instead of air conditioning if your health permits
  • Keep your shades drawn to block out the heat
  • Turn off pumps to swimming pools
  • Turn off unused lights and appliances

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