California heatwave set to trigger flexible alerts for energy grid

California officials on Wednesday issued a flexible statewide alertcalling for voluntary energy conservation as officials prepare for what is expected to be the worst heat wave of the year, which will last nearly a week.

State officials have asked Californians to voluntarily limit their electricity use from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. in anticipation of increased energy demand as temperatures rise.

“With excessive heat in the forecast for much of the state and the western United States, the grid operator expects strong demand for electricity, primarily from the use of the air conditioning, and calls for voluntary conservation measures to help balance supply and demand,” California officials said. Independent System Operator wrote in a press release.

Forecasters expect the next few days to become California longest and most intense heatwave of the year.

The heat wave, a consequence of a large hot air dome sitting on central and southern California – was scheduled to begin Wednesday and last through Tuesday next week.

Record heat is possible Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday and Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

Temperatures along the coast could range from 80 to 95 degrees Wednesday through Saturday, before rising to 100 degrees Sunday and Monday, the weather service said.

Valleys and mountains could be hit with temperatures of 95 to 110 degrees Wednesday through Saturday, and highs of up to 115 on Sunday and Monday, meteorologists said.

For officials at the California Independent System Operator, which operates the state’s power grid, a long and painful period of high temperatures means flexible alerts could continue beyond Wednesday.

During a flexible alert, consumers are asked to reduce their energy consumption in the afternoon and evening, when the network is the most stressed due to high demand and less energy available from solar panels.

Customers are asked to set their thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, avoid using large appliances and charging electric vehicles, and turn off unnecessary lights.

Reducing demand on the grid can prevent further emergency measures, such as power outages, officials said.

Cal ISO said it was taking steps “to bring all available resources online,” including issuing orders for restricted maintenance operations Wednesday through Tuesday, noon to 10 p.m. each day.

Governor Gavin Newsom urged Californians on Wednesday to conserve electricity.

“We expect this extreme heat to be of a length and duration that we haven’t seen in some time,” Newsom said.

Newsom advised Californians to crank their thermostats up to 78 degrees during the Flex Alert from 4-9 p.m. tonight. The governor warned that Sunday and Monday will be the toughest days for the energy grid.

High temperatures have hit as the governor and his team pressure lawmakers to pass a controversial bill on the last day of the legislative year to keep the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant open until 2030.

The plant, which is on the coast of San Luis Obispo County and generated 6% of the state’s electricity last year, is scheduled to close in 2025.

Newsom argues that Diablo needs to stay open for California to keep the lights on during heat waves and avoid a repeat of the blackouts the state experienced two years ago. The environmental groups that pushed Diablo to be shut down six years ago strongly oppose it.

Newsom’s plan to continue operations at the state’s last nuclear power plant.

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