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Flex Alert: Californians asked to conserve electricity

SAN DIEGO -- The manager of the state's power grid has asked residents in San Diego and across California to voluntarily conserve electricity Tuesday and Wednesday to ease demand on the system as a heat wave continues to send temperatures soaring.

The California Independent System Operator, or Cal-ISO, issued a statewide Flex Alert that will be in effect from 2 to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.

Cal-ISO official urged residents to make an extra effort to conserve energy during late afternoon hours, when air conditioners tend to be used most. The agency predicted peak usage Tuesday and Wednesday to exceed 47,000 megawatts, and noted that widespread air-condition use can put strain on the electrical system.

According to Cal-ISO's website, electrical demand late Monday afternoon reached nearly 43,800 megawatts. Demand on Sunday peaked at just more than 39,000 megawatts. The highest demand ever recorded by the system was 50,270 megawatts, which occurred on July 24, 2006.

A Flex Alert is issued when the electrical grid is "under stress," generally from increased power usage due to hot weather.

Cal-ISO officials urged residents to take steps such as:

-- setting thermostats at 78 degrees or higher;

-- close drapes and use fans to cool rooms;

-- turn off unnecessary lights and appliances; and

-- delay using major appliances until early in the morning or late in the evening.