By Ari Vanrenen
PG&E urged its customers to conserve energy as it forecasts consumers in its service area may break an all-time record for electricity use on Thursday (June 22).
PG&E meteorologists forecast heat intensifying today and peaking tomorrow, driving up energy demand to levels not seen since 2006 — especially due to air conditioner use to combat the heat.
PG&E is ready for the projected energy usage and has enough energy supply, including renewables like solar energy, to meet the needs of customers.
The California Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages the state’s energy grid, issued a statewide Flex Alert, a call for voluntary electricity conservation from 2 to 9 p.m. today (June 21). The ISO and PG&E are asking consumers to conserve electricity especially during the late afternoon from 4 to 7 p.m. when customers typically crank up their air conditioners.
PG&E forecasts customer demand for energy during the heat wave will peak tomorrow, Thursday, June 22, at 22,700 megawatts. The energy company’s previous system peak load was on July 25, 2006, when customer demand for electricity hit 22,468 megawatts. Across California, the ISO said forecast peak usage for today is 47,000 megawatts.
“First and foremost, we want our customers and the public to be safe,” said Deborah Affonsa, vice president of Customer Service at PG&E. “Tomorrow is going to be hot! We encourage customers to stay cool by opening windows and doors, using fans to pre-cool your home in the early mornings and evenings when possible. The single biggest step that customers can take to keep the power flowing is to reduce the use of their air conditioner. A small reduction can go a long way during this prolonged heat wave.”
PG&E expects to call on demand response programs to help assist with energy load management. Demand response programs allow customers to reduce their energy bill in exchange for shifting their energy use to hours when demand for power is lower. More than 290,000 residential and business customers are enrolled in PG&E’s six demand response programs which can provide electricity load reductions of up to 508 megawatts — the size of a natural gas power plant. Customers can learn more at pge.com/demandresponse.
PG&E also urges customers to stay safe during this heat wave. The company funds cooling centers throughout its service area to help customers escape the heat and cool off. Find a center near you or call 1-877-474-3266.
Small behavioral changes also can make a big difference in reducing demand on the power grid during periods of extreme heat and help customers save money all summer long.
- Set your air conditioner thermostat to 78 degrees or higher when you’re at home, health permitting, and 85 degrees when you’re away.
- Setting your AC thermostat 5 degrees higher will save about 10 percent on cooling costs.
- If you turn your ceiling fan on when using the air conditioner, you can raise your thermostat about 4°F to save energy with no reduction in comfort.
- Shut windows and draw the shades to keep in pre-cooled air from the night and early morning.
- Have your central cooling duct system checked for leaks. Up to 20 percent of cooled air can be lost through leaky or poorly insulated ducts.
- Avoid using an electric oven on hot days. Instead, cook on the stove, use a microwave oven or grill outside.
For more tips on how to save this summer, visit www.pge.com/summer.
Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.