California Declares Energy Emergency

State grid operator warns rotating power outages ‘very possible.’

California electric grid operators declared an energy emergency late on Sept. 6, warning that rotating power outages were very possible as the entire state roasted under unprecedented heat.

The alert signaled the possibility that power would be shut off in some places from 1 to 2 hours at a time.

California was already under a flex alert until 9 p.m., under which consumers are urged to reduce electric usage, and some business and industrial customers have power turned off under their agreements with utilities.

The state sweltered for another day, with temperature records falling in many locations. Adding to the pressure was the fact that Tuesday marked the first full work day during the current heat wave, which began in earnest on Saturday and persisted throughout the Labor Day Holiday.

Temperatures reached triple digits in much of the state, surging as high as 113 or more in many interior locations.

The California Independent System Operator which manages the state’s electric distribution network has been struggling to balance the demand for electricity against available generation.

As of 6 p.m., it said power demand had reached 49 Megawatts. Peak demand is expected to reach nearly 52 megawatts, before easing once darkness brings some temperature relief.

Hot weather is expected to persist in the state through most of the week, although for now, Tuesday appeared likely to be the hottest day of the current heat wave.

The temperatures are bad news for the state’s fire season, as they contribute to the extensive damage a years long drought has caused to much of the state’s forest lands. 

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