'Highest demand ever': California could break record for energy demand this week

Grid operators are anticipating that the state could break the previous energy demand high set.

Updated: September 5, 2022 - 11:25pm

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As California moves into the most extreme part of the ongoing heat wave, grid operators warned Monday that the state could see record-breaking energy demands come Tuesday.

Grid operators are anticipating that the state could break the previous energy demand high set in 2006 – 50,270 megawatts – on Tuesday. Current forecasts indicate that demand could spike to 51,145 megawatts Tuesday, with Wednesday’s forecast expected to reach 50,002 megawatts, according to a System Conditions Bulletin released Monday.

“Right now the forecast for Tuesday would be, if it materialized, above the highest demand ever seen in California, which was back in July of 2006,” Elliot Mainzer, president and CEO of the California Independent System Operator, said Monday. “We're going to try to do everything we can with all of our partners to bend that demand curve well below that and give us that margin of safety before we get into significant grid disturbances, but it's going to take all of us to really lean in here today and tomorrow in particular.”

With temperatures stretching up to 115 degrees in inland areas and temperatures in the 80s and 90s closer to the coast on Monday and Tuesday, officials are urging Californians to step up energy conservation efforts to avoid power outages.

Cal ISO issued an Energy Emergency Alert 1 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday, which indicates that “energy deficiencies are expected.” The alert also directs market participants to “offer supplemental energy and ancillary service bids,” according to Cal ISO.

Mainzer said rolling blackouts and outages “are a possibility,” emphasizing the importance of increasing energy conservation efforts.

Since last Wednesday and throughout Labor Day Weekend, Cal ISO has issued a series of Flex Alerts to urge residents to take energy conservation measures between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. when demand is at its highest. Those efforts include turning thermostats up to 78 degrees, turning off unnecessary lights, and avoiding using large electric appliances.

On Monday, officials issued a sixth consecutive Flex Alert, asking residents to conserve energy between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. to avoid blackouts. Flex Alerts could be issued this week as much of the West is experiencing excessive heat, according to the system conditions bulletin.

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