SAN DIEGO (KSWB) — As another anticipated heat wave is expected to set in across the west, California’s grid operator could issue its first Flex Alert of the year this week, calling on residents to voluntarily reduce electricity use during certain hours.

In a bulletin released Sunday, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) indicated that they could trigger the alert, which is the entity’s lowest level emergency warning, in anticipation of high temperatures to prevent additional stress on energy supplies.

“Widespread heat waves can cause energy supply shortages, as resources are
stretched thin across multiple states,” the bulletin read. “As part of an interconnected Western grid, (CAISO) is preparing for tight conditions and taking coordinated steps with its neighbors to ensure adequate power supply during this week’s hot weather.”

Resources are currently expected to be sufficient to meet the California demand, according to CAISO. To ensure this, the state grid operator has also sent notices to utilities and transmission operators, requesting they avoid taking assets offline for routine maintenance from Tuesday to Thursday.

However, CAISO encourages customers to be prepared for emergency notifications — like the Flex Alert — in case of changes in weather or grid conditions.

Here’s what to know about a Flex Alert:

If the Flex Alert is issued, residents are encouraged to voluntarily reduce electricity usage during the late afternoon and evening hours — typically from around 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

While it is in effect, consumers are urged to conserve by avoiding use of major appliances, turning off any unnecessary lights, unplugging all electrical devices not in use, utilizing fans when possible and if health permits, setting the AC to 78 degrees or higher.

The alert is typically issued at least a day in advance so residents can prepare to cut back their energy usage. According to CAISO, consumers should do this the morning before an alert by:

  • Pre-cooling homes to 72 degrees.
  • Closing all blinds, drapes or curtains.
  • Turning off all unneccesary lights.
  • Using major appliances like dishwashers or washing machines, as needed.

However, CAISO warns that grid emergencies can happen suddenly amid changing conditions, prompting Flex Alerts to be issued with little to no advance warning.

To view the current and forecasted demand, residents can utilize CAISO’s grid outlook.

CAISO manages the flow of electricity for about 80% of the state’s electric grid, according to the entity. The state’s three investor-owned utility companies — Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison — account for the remaining power grids.

All consumers, including those with the investor-owned companies, would fall under a Flex Alert, should it be issued for the entire state. Flex Alerts can also be issued for specific regions in the state where the system is stressed.