Power restored in California after heat wave spurs first rolling blackouts since 2001

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Power was restored across California by 10 p.m. Friday, after rolling blackouts had been ordered earlier in the evening for the first time since 2001 as a statewide heat wave strained its electrical system. 

The state’s energy grid went into a Stage 3 emergency shortly after 6:30 p.m., and utilities were ordered to shed their power loads. But the grid stabilized around 7:50 p.m., and blackouts were no longer needed by 9 p.m., its operator said.

The situation came amid heat watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service that covered much of the state. The scorching temperatures brought the threat of both wildfires and more coronavirus infections as people flock to beaches and recreation areas.

The California Independent System Operator blamed excessive heat driving up electricity use and putting strain on the grid.

The ISO issued a Flex Alert, which is a voluntary call to consumers to conserve electricity, from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday in order to prevent outages.

Consumers are urged to set air condition thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, turn off unnecessary lights and to defer use of major appliances during that time period.

SoCal Edison said outages would last up to one hour at a time, as a method to help ease the demand on the electrical grid, according to company spokesperson David Song. To check areas that are affected, view the SoCal Edison website or log in to your account.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said power shutoffs were not executed in the city of L.A.

“We own our own power plants and transmission lines and had enough supply to meet demand + req’d reserves,” the agency said in a tweet.

The city of Torrance said blackouts would last up to 15 minutes at businesses.

At about 8:45 p.m., Pasadena said it was notified by ISO that shutoffs were not longer necessary. Residents were still encouraged to conserve energy.

In Calabasas, officials said they were told by Edison that rolling blackouts could return at 7 a.m. Saturday morning to decrease the expected strain on the power grid.

https://twitter.com/CityofCalabasas/status/1294477866407587841

Pacific Gas & Electric said it would turn off power to about 200,000 to 250,000 customers in rotating outages for about an hour at a time until around 11 p.m.

It’s the first time since 2001 a Stage 3 emergency has been declared.

Power grid operators say they’ll decide whether to continue the outages on a day-to-day basis.

The Santa Clarita, San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys are expected to see extremely high temperatures ranging between 102 and 109 degrees over the weekend. While some areas will get the hottest temperatures on Friday and Saturday, others will feel the scorching heat on Sunday and Monday.

The highest temperatures are expected to top triple digits in the Central Valley, the Sierra Nevada foothills, deserts and areas of the San Francisco Bay Area.

The sweltering temperatures could continue into next week and are a concern for firefighters battling blazes that have destroyed several homes. 

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