With extreme temperatures forecast across much of California on Friday (July 9), the state’s grid operator is asking residents to voluntarily conserve electricity this afternoon and evening to help ease the strain on the grid during crucial evening hours when solar energy is diminished or no longer available.
The Flex Alert, called by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), was issued Thursday and will be in effect on Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. The grid operator is forecasting an higher electric load, and energy supply forecasted to be tighter than expected on Friday, primarily from heavy air-conditioning use due to the heat.
The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings through the weekend for many regions within PG&E’s service territory. The grid operator’s statewide Flex Alert for Friday asks all Californians to work together and conserve.
The grid operator noted that when Flex Alerts were called in mid-June and during last summer’s regional heat wave in August and September, consumers answered the call and collectively made a significant reduction in their energy use. That allowed grid operators to avoid or limit possible rotating power outages that can become necessary when demand for electricity outstrips capacity.
Saving Energy at Home
Here are five ways Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) customers can cut their power use and help keep the lights (and air conditioning) on for everyone:
• Pre-cool your home or workspace. Lower your thermostat in the morning. As the temperature rises outside, raise your thermostat and circulate the pre-cooled air with a fan.
• 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.
• Charge your EVs outside peak hours. Along with using large appliances, remember to charge your electric vehicle in the morning or after 9 p.m.
• Clear the area around your AC unit: Your air-conditioning unit will operate more efficiently 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 coffeemakers 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, totaling about 261,000 enrolled PG&E customers.
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. PG&E’s in-house meteorologists say a significant heat wave will develop primarily across California’s interior beginning Friday, as high pressure builds over the region. Meteorologists forecast that the most pronounced extreme heat will occur in the Central Valley and other inland valleys, where highs could reach 105 degrees to 114 degrees.
PG&E is prepared for this extreme heat and, based on forecasts, doesn’t anticipate issues meeting increased demand for power.
Also, at this time, the grid operator has not indicated that it plans to call for rotating outages. PG&E does not project a need for a Public Safety Power Shutoff due to this weather, but the company’s meteorology team will continuously monitor conditions.
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.