Power transmission lines run through Jacumba Hot Springs. File photo

With searing heat driving up air-conditioner use across California, the manager of the state’s power grid called for a second statewide Flex Alert on Thursday, urging residents to conserve as much electricity as possible from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

A Flex Alert within those hours was also called on Wednesday — and the power system operator warned that more are likely to be posted in the coming week, particularly on Sunday and Monday, which are forecast to have the highest electricity demand.

The California Independent System Operator issued the Flex Alert “due to high temperatures pushing up energy demand and tightening available power supplies.”

“With excessive heat in the forecast across much of the state and Western U.S., the grid operator is expecting high electricity demand, primarily from air conditioning use, and is calling for voluntary conservation steps to help balance supply and demand,” according to Cal-ISO.

During the alerts, residents are urged to take power-saving steps such as:

  • Setting thermostats to 78 degrees or higher
  • Avoiding use of major appliances
  • Turning off unnecessary lights
  • Avoid charging electric vehicles

Residents are also advised to pre-cool their homes as much as possible and close blinds and drapes to keep interiors cool.

A Flex Alert is the lowest-level notification issued by Cal-ISO, but if voluntary conservation fails to cut strain on the power grid, the agency could move into a series of emergency alerts that could ultimately lead to rolling blackouts.

The heat wave baking most of the state is expected to continue through the Labor Day weekend.

“We are anticipating this extreme heat to be a length and duration the likes of which we haven’t experienced in some time,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday. “Yes, we’re used to record-breaking temperatures, maybe a day or two, more episodic, but this is an extended period.”

He encouraged residents to heed the call for conservation, noting that the most concerning days in terms of electricity demand will come on Sunday and Monday, during Labor Day weekend.

“Try not to use too much electricity in those key hours,” he said. “Try to reduce your consumption to the extent possible. If you’re not home, it’s a holiday weekend, Labor Day weekend, you’re out enjoying yourself, we encourage you before you leave home if you can turn those thermostats up to 85 degrees, that would also help reduce demand.”

Updated at 7:35a.m. Sept. 1, 2022

–City News Service