The Sunrise Powerlink brings power through the desert to San Diego. Photo courtesy SDG&E

San Diego Gas & Electric was directed to begin rolling blackouts Monday that could have effected 100,000 customers, but the power crisis was averted at the last moment.

“Rotating outages were averted in San Diego and southern Orange counties today, in part thanks to local residents and businesses heeding the call to cut back on energy usage amid a prolonged heat wave and exceptionally high energy demand,” the utility said in a statement.

The California Independent System Operator, which manages high-voltage power transmission across the state, had warned SDG&E and other utilities it was very likely that they would be ordered to implement rotating outages.

“The number of impacted SDG&E customers could exceed 100,000 today,” the utility announced at 3:45 p.m.. “Customers should expect to be without power for about an hour.”

Critical facilities such as hospitals, police and fire stations were to be exempt from the blackouts, as well as communities in high-threat fire districts.

A list of affected areas and associated circuit numbers was posted on the SDG&E website. But in the end, no blackouts were ordered.

The utility urged residents to continue efforts to conserve energy, saying conservation remains critically important to help avoid the need for rotating outages, as well shorten the duration of outages.

Given the severity of the weather and grid conditions, it’s possible that more widespread rotating outages would occur throughout the state in the coming days,” SDG&E said.

The CASIO urged Californians to take the following steps to limit electricity use:

  • Set air-conditioning thermostats to 78 degrees
  • Defer use of major appliances
  • Turn off unnecessary lights
  • Unplug unused electrical devices
  • Close blinds and drapes
  • Use fans when possible
  • Limit time the refrigerator door is open

Updated at 9:20 p.m., Monday, Aug. 17, 2020

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