California Declares Grid Emergency As Power Use Nears 5-Year High

Officials fear blackouts in nation's largest state as a blistering heat wave rockets temperatures into the triple digits.

California officials again declared a power grid emergency Monday afternoon as energy use neared a five-year high amid a blistering heat wave.

Temperatures soared above 110 degrees in several areas. Millions of residents and businesses cranked up their air conditioning as America’s largest state was forecast to bust an energy consumption record set in 2017.

The high risk of blackouts triggered the Stage 1 emergency declaration. The only way blackouts can now be avoided is if consumers double or even triple their efforts to conserve electricity, officials said.

“The potential for rotating outages has increased significantly,” said Elliot Mainzer, chief executive officer of the California Independent System Operator (Caiso), which runs the state’s grid.

“We have now entered the most intense phase of this heat wave” and stepping up conservation efforts will be essential, he said at a media briefing Monday.

He added that the grid was looking at “energy deficits” of as much as 10% of normal electricity demand, which could take as many as 3 million households offline.

If consumer conservation isn’t effective, Caiso would have to take other steps to conserve energy, including implementing rotating blackouts.

Much of California will remain under an excessive heat warning for the next four days. The Sacramento Valley was expected to reach 119 degrees on Monday.

Thousands of homes were already without power in Napa Valley, according to a PG&E outage map.

Downtown Los Angeles hit 103 degrees on Sunday, which was the first time the temperature broke 100 this year.

Last Thursday, California’s Death Valley National Park broke a world heat record, reaching 127 degrees. It marked the highest temperature ever recorded in September.

California officials warned that the state could again break the all-time record for power demand on Tuesday as students return to classrooms and businesses reopen after the holiday weekend.

The high temperatures also spike the risk of wildfires, which in turn threaten power lines and energy supply.

Ironically, in a state turning to electric cars to battle climate change, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) asked drivers last week not to charge their cars during peak power use.

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