PG&E has asked its customers to conserve electricity after the operator of California’s electric grid issued a Flex Alert in response to the triple-digit temperatures across most of the state.
A Flex Alert is called when conditions such as extreme weather or power issues exist.
The California Independent System Operator, better known as CAISO, manages the electricity that makes up 80 percent of the state’s power grid. With control centers in Northern and Southern California, CAISO monitors 57,000 megawatts of electricity from about 1,400 power plants that serve 30 million residents.
CAISO called a Flex Alert for Friday through Sunday (Aug. 10-12); however, the grid operator has now lifted the alert Saturday and Sunday. PG&E has asked its customers to conserve today and Friday, especially between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Consumers are asked to conserve energy and to shift any non-essential power demands to off-peak hours, such as 6 p.m. or later.
Weather forecasters say high temperatures could exceed 105 degrees in Sacramento and the Central Valley on Friday and Saturday with 110 degrees possible in some locations.
Residential customers can save energy in many ways:
- Set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher when home and turn it off when away. Use a fan, if possible.
- Keep the refrigerator full (with bottles of water if nothing else) and unplug that second unit.
- Turn off unnecessary lights, appliances and computers. Switch off the lights when you leave a room.
- Shut windows and draw the shades to keep in pre-cooled air from the night and early morning.
- Avoid using appliances during peak hours of late afternoon and evening, 4-6 p.m. being most critical. Avoid using an electric oven on hot days. Instead, cook on the stove, use a microwave oven, or grill outside.
- Reset your pool pump to run during off peak hours.
Businesses are asked to conserve, too:
- Turn off the computer monitor when you’re away from your desk. (It’s the biggest power drain on your computer system).
- Turn off lights and computers in empty offices.
- Switch off the coffee maker at 10 a.m., leave a full pot and reheat individual mugs in the microwave.
- Leave half of the room’s overhead lighting off. Less light also means less heat so your air conditioner gets a break.
- Check that office thermostats are set at 78 degrees or higher during the day and off in the evenings and weekends.
Today, the forecasted demand statewide is 46,295 megawatts. Record demand of 50,270 MW was reached on July 24, 2006.
PG&E also has some tips to help customers stay cool and safe while keeping energy bills down.
- When temperatures are unusually high, you can visit PG&E-supported Cooling Centers to escape the heat, free of charge. For information on Cooling Centers, or to find out if there is one in your neighborhood, contact your local city or county.
- If your neighborhood does not have a Cooling Center, plan trips to public places with air conditioning such as libraries, movie theaters or shopping malls.
- Use caution and keep fireworks, balloons, kites and toys (such as high powered water guns or remote control aircraft) away from overhead electric lines. Contact with lines can lead to serious injury, fires and outages.
In addition to customer conservation efforts, PG&E depends on “demand response” programs to keep the grid stable during summer months. Demand response programs are voluntary and allow enrolled customers to receive an incentive for reducing their energy use during peak demand times, like weekday afternoons.
In response to the Flex Alert, PG&E has activated five demand response programs for more than 4,000 business locations, reducing demand by several hundred megawatts of electricity.
Customers can visit PG&E’s website to learn whether these demand-response programs are right for them.