Hot Temperatures Will Tax the Grid so PG&E, Other Utilities Asking Customers to Conserve During Peak Hours
With hot temperatures forecast for today (Thursday, Oct. 1), the state’s grid operator has called for afternoon and evening energy conservation throughout California as one way to make sure that the supply of power stays ahead of demand.
The Flex Alert, called by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), has been issued for today from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. With high temperatures in the forecast, the grid operator is predicting an increase in electricity demand, primarily from air conditioning use. Reduced capacity, along with fire activity and heat, has led to a potential shortage of energy supply this evening, CAISO says.
CAISO says wildfires are threatening transmission lines across the state, and in fact, generators that were taken offline several weeks ago due to wildfires have not returned to service. Smoke from wildfires is adding forecast uncertainty and has the potential to reduce solar power production as the weather pattern changes over the coming days, according to CAISO.
This statewide Flex Alert asks everyone to work together and conserve.
Saving Energy at Home
Here are five ways PG&E customers can cut their power use and help keep the lights (and air conditioning) on for everyone:
Set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher, health permitting: Every degree you lower the thermostat means your air conditioner must work even harder to keep your home cool.
When it’s cooler outside, bring the cool air in: If the outside air is cool in the night or early morning, open windows and doors and use fans to cool your home.
Close your shades: Sunlight passing through windows heats your home and makes your air conditioner work harder. Block this heat by keeping blinds or drapes closed on the sunny side of your home.
Cool down with a fan: Fans keep air circulating, allowing you to raise the thermostat a few degrees and stay just as comfortable while reducing your air-conditioning costs.
Clear the area around your AC: Your air conditioning unit will operate better if it has plenty of room to breathe. The air conditioner's outdoor unit, the condenser, needs to be able to circulate air without any interruption or obstruction. Also, dirty air filters make your air conditioner work harder to circulate air. By cleaning or replacing your filters monthly, you can improve energy efficiency and reduce costs.
Saving Energy at Your Office or Business
If you’re working in an office setting, CAISO recommends the following:
Turn off any office equipment that is not currently in use. Alternately, look for sleep or power-saving modes in between uses during the day.
Enable power management settings on all computers so that they go to sleep and turn off screens when not in use.
Plug electronics such as coffee-makers and microwaves into power strips and switch them off when the day is done.
As you leave the office, get in the habit of checking to make sure computers, printers/copiers, and other office equipment is fully shut down. If possible, switch them off at the power strip to ensure they are no longer draining energy.
PG&E’s Demand Response programs offer incentives for business owners and residential customers who curtail their energy use during times of peak demand. PG&E has several of these programs. About 261,000 PG&E customers are enrolled in one of these Demand Response programs. PG&E’s website includes detailed information on these programs, which allow residential customers and business customers to save energy and money.
Customers can actively help by shifting energy use to morning and nighttime hours. Conservation can lower demand and reduce the duration of possible power interruptions. In August, when California experienced its first rotating outages in two decades, conservation limited the effects to two nights rather than three or four. And, similarly, conservation over the very hot Labor Day weekend prevented the need for rotating outages.
PG&E’s meteorologists say that a high-pressure system remains anchored over the state. Daytime high temperatures today will top out in the upper 90s to low 100s across the interior and throughout much of the intermediate and inland Bay Area with upper 80s to low 90s near the coast. Cooler weather returns over the weekend as high pressure breaks down with near-normal temperatures along the coast and around the Bay Area, but remaining slightly above-normal farther inland
Northwest winds will increase after midday and peak this afternoon and evening reaching 10-20 mph with gusts 25-30 mph over elevated terrain extending from Humboldt County to the Central Coast before diminishing overnight. PG&E does not project a need for a Public Safety Power Shutoff due to this weather, but conditions will be continuously monitored.
PG&E is prepared and, based on forecasts, doesn’t anticipate any issues meeting the increased demand for power. At this point, CAISO has given no indication that it will call for rotating outages.
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. To find a center near you click here or call 1-877-474-3266.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 23,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and pge.com/news.
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