Wildfire Caused Power System Disruptions California Takes Action to Conserve Energy

Wildfire Caused Power System Disruptions & Near Record Energy Demand, California Takes Action to Conserve Energy

State grid is predicted to approach record energy demand today due to an extreme heat storm

Governor Newsom & California energy agencies move aggressively to reduce demand and free up energy capacity for Labor Day weekend

Last month, Governor Newsom ordered investigation into state power shortages

Governor Newsom: “California has always been the canary in the coal mine for climate change, and this weekend’s events only underscore that reality”

SACRAMENTO, CA (STL.News) With California experiencing an unprecedented heat storm and wildfires that caused power grid system failures, the state is moving aggressively to reduce the gap between supply and demand this weekend, while California energy agencies call on individuals and businesses to “flex their power” by conserving energy from 3-10 p.m.  Today, the heat storm will worsen with the National Weather Service predicting more record-breaking heat, and the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) predicting electric energy demand nearing state records.

California and the Newsom Administration are working aggressively to free up energy capacity to meet the demands of this heat storm event.  On Thursday night, Governor Newsom issued an emergency proclamation suspending regulations in order to create more energy supply and reduce demand on the grid.  Other actions the state has taken include:

  • Working with large commercial and public energy consumers to shift their energy usage away from peak hours
  • Ramping up appeals to Californians to flex their power, pre-cool their homes before noon and conserve energy from 3 p.m. onwards
  • Partnering with third party energy producers to bring back-up energy generation resources online – from the State Water Project to LADWP and the state’s investor-owned utilities
  • Asking the Navy and commercial ports to use on-ship electrical generation instead of pulling resources away from the grid

Even with these efforts, given the extreme heat storm, Californians may experience rolling energy blackouts this afternoon if users do not conserve enough energy to lower the demand on California’s power grid.  These outages were avoided Friday and Saturday due in large part to individual conservation efforts, but even more conservation efforts are needed today.  On Saturday, the Creek Fire in Madera County forced the closure of a 915 megawatt hydropower station, further constraining grid resources.

“California has always been the canary in the coal mine for climate change, and this weekend’s events only underscore that reality,” said Governor Newsom.  “Wildfires have caused system failures, while near record energy demand is predicted as a multi-state heat wave hits the West Coast for the second time in a matter of weeks.  Californians are rising to the occasion to meet these unprecedented challenges for our energy grid, and I want to thank all of the businesses and individuals who are conserving energy.  Californians should heed CAISO’s warnings and flex their power to shift energy consumption to earlier in the day today, and protect against predicted shortages Sunday and Monday.”

Last month, Governor Newsom called for an investigation into state power shortages caused by summer heat events.

Guidance to residents and businesses to conserve power

This morning, CAISO issued a statewide Flex Alert calling for voluntary electricity conservation, beginning at 3:00 p.m. today and extending through Monday.  The Flex Alerts are in effect from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. each day.

CAISO highlighted three simple actions individuals and businesses can take to reduce energy consumption:

  • “Pre-cooling” homes in the morning, and then setting A/C thermostats to 78 degrees or higher between 3 to 10 p.m.
  • Refrain from major appliance use between 3 and 10 p.m.
  • Turn off unnecessary lights and appliances

Additional steps and guidance for individuals & businesses:

Adjust Your Thermostat

  • Pre-cool your home by running air conditioning at 72 degrees in the early part of the day (when it is more efficient) then turn your system to 78 or higher during the hottest part of the day when demand is the highest.
  • During peak hours or when you’re not home, remember to set your thermostat at 78° or higher.  Setting your air conditioner 5° higher can save up to 20 percent on cooling costs.
  • Use smart or programmable features to help maintain energy savings when you’re not home.

Close Windows and Doors

  • Keep windows and doors closed to prevent the loss of cooled or heated air.
  • On summer nights, open windows to let cooler air in when safe.  In the morning before the day starts to heat up, close windows and blinds to keep warm air out.
  • Tilt blinds up and close drapes and shades on windows that receive direct sunlight.

Smart Energy Use

  • Turn off unnecessary lighting and use task or desktop lamps with LEDs instead of overhead lights.
  • Enable “power management” on all computers and turn off when not in use.
  • Unplug phone chargers, power strips (those without a switch) and other equipment when not in use.

Taken together, these small items can use as much power as your refrigerator.

Access and Functional Needs

  • Check in on neighbors, friends and family who may be at risk.
  • Charge medical devices in off hours and have back-up plan for if the power goes out.
  • In addition to traditional community support channels, individuals with access and functional needs should reach out to local government for assistance.
  • Contact local utilities companies if you are dependent on power for assistive devices.

Major Appliance Use

  • Postpone using major appliances like the oven, dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer until cooler times of the day to avoid heating up your home.
  • Run your dishwasher and clothes washer only when full.  Wait until after 10 p.m. to use these and other major appliances.
  • When possible, wash clothes in cold water.  About 90 percent of the energy used in a clothes washer goes to water heating.

Clean or Replace Your Filters

  • A dirty filter forces your air conditioner and furnace to work harder, wasting money, using more energy or natural gas.

Adjust Your Water Heater

  • Turn your water heater down to 120° or the “normal” setting.  Water heating accounts for about 13 percent of home energy costs.