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No Blackouts Sunday, But Californians Urged To Conserve Energy And Prepare For Outages During Record Heatwave

Power lines in Sacramento County
Andrew Nixon
Power lines in Sacramento County

Updated Sunday, 8:18 p.m.

California’s electric grid operator has said there won't be rolling blackouts Sunday evening, but asked residents to conserve energy between 3 and 10 p.m. through Wednesday so as not to overwhelm the electrical grid during the current heatwave.

The California Independent System Operator said in a press release that consumers should be prepared for rolling outages during the late afternoons and early evenings through Wednesday.

“Consumers should be prepared for likely rolling outages during the late afternoons and early evenings through Wednesday,” the release said. "There is not a sufficient amount of energy to meet the high amounts of demand during the heatwave. "

Early Sunday PG&E officials said they expected California ISO to call for outages and notified approximately 210,000 customers in parts of San Francisco, San Mateo and Contra Costa counties who would have been impacted. None of those customers will lose power now.

The Sacramento Municipal Utilities District, which serves customers in the region, said Sunday it would like customers to conserve energy, but expects to avoid blackouts. The utility is asking customers to set air conditioners to 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, limit the use of household appliances from 1-9 p.m., and avoid the use of both hot water and cold water.

“We have enough power resources to meet demand, barring a regional or state grid emergency, and we have additional crews available to quickly restore power in the event of an outage,” SMUD’s Chief Energy Delivery Officer Frankie McDermott wrote in a statement earlier this week.

On Saturday, "rolling blackouts” hit Californians briefly. California ISO issued a warning early Saturday of a possible system reserve deficiency. Around 6:30 p.m. the agency directed utilities to institute rolling outages, before ending the emergency declaration approximately 30 minutes later.

PG&E says it restored power by around 8 p.m. to nearly all the 220,000 affected customers. Outages were mostly in portions of the Central Coast and Central Valley, including Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Joaquin counties.

The San Joaquin County Officer of Emergency Services reported outages near Stockton, but said power was restored in most areas by around 8:20 p.m.

Saturday was the second-consecutive day of outages throughout the state. On Friday night, PG&E was directed by California ISO to turn off power to approximately 220,000 customers to help relieve the strain on the power grid, affecting customers beginning about 6:35 p.m., the utility said. The power was back on by about 10:15 p.m.

California ISO has not imposed such action on the state’s energy grid operators in two decades, since the “rolling blackouts” in 2001.

“As the statewide heatwave continues, PG&E strongly encourages all customers to conserve energy through next Wednesday,” the utility said in a statement Saturday.

The rolling blackouts are unrelated to last year’s power shutoffs during high fire conditions. It’s unclear if additional blackouts will be needed as triple-digit temperatures are forecast into next week.

Copyright 2020 CapRadio

Nick Miller