With electricity use spiking amid the searing heat, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Management Services issued a rare alert Tuesday evening, calling for Californians to immediately reduce their energy use to avoid blackouts.
“Emergency Alert: CAOES Conserve energy to protect public health and safety. Turn off nonessential power now,” the alert, which was sent to millions of mobile phones just before 6 p.m., read.
“If outages are initiated, consumers can expect to receive notifications from power providers on areas affected and time duration,” California’s Independent System Operator said in a news release.
The warning, known as an “Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) 3,” indicates rotating blackouts are now possible to protect the energy grid.
Earlier in the day, California ISO declared an EEA 2, which allowed the state to “bid” more energy into the market and tap power reserves.
“As grid conditions worsened, energy supplies were determined to be insufficient to
cover demand and reserves, and an EEA 3 was declared,” California ISO said. “Controlled power outages are
now imminent or in process according to each utility’s emergency plan.”
Peak electricity demand was forecast to reach or exceed 52,000 megawatts Tuesday, which would mark a new all-time high for California’s power grid.
An Extreme Heat Warning remains in effect through 8 p.m. Thursday.
In a videotaped statement Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom asked Californians to “do a little bit more” to keep electricity flowing, noting that years of drought have reduced the state’s capacity to produce hydroelectric power.
“The reality is we are living in an era of extremes,” Newsom said. “We are anticipating this extreme heat to be a length and duration of which we haven’t experienced in some time. On the supply side we’re challenged by these extremes and on the demand side, not surprisingly, people are turning up the (air conditioning).”