though state officials were hopeful it could.
The utility made the announcement as California's power grid operator extended its call for residents to voluntarily conserve electricity to avoid outages as record-breaking heat blankets the West.
"To be clear, CAISO has not called for rotating outages at this time," the PG&E announcement reads. "If demand exceeds supply, at the direction of the state’s grid operator, PG&E and other energy companies in the state could be asked to turn off power in order to help prevent larger outages to the grid.
The California Independent System Operator issued a flex alert for 5-10 p.m. Thursday because torrid conditions engulfing the West have tightened energy supplies. It's also now calling for an additional flex alert Friday from 6 - 9 p.m.
Cal ISO’s Chief Operating Officer Mark Rothleder said Thursday they did have to get some additional power from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to meet demand. But barring unforeseen circumstances, it appears a combination of gradually cooling temperatures and voluntary conservation will keep power demand from exceeding supply.
The agency recommends that during a flex alert, customers:
- Set air conditioner thermostats to 78 degrees, if health permits
- Avoid using dishwashers, washers, dryers, and ovens
- Turn off unnecessary lights
- Unplug or turn off electrical devices that you are not using
- Keep blinds and drapes closed to prevent the sun from heating up the home
- Use fans when possible
But if you're a SMUD customer, it looks like your air conditioner and other electrical appliances will be able to power through the current heat wave, despite the flex alert.
"SMUD does not do flex alerts," SMUD's Lindsay VanLaningham said. "We have lots of mitigation measures in place if there is some sort of an emergency … and we anticipate being able to meet peak demand barring some sort of major emergency."
Wednesday was the first day of triple-digit heat in much of Northern California. Temperatures will be around 108 on Thursday and Friday, when an "Excessive Heat Watch" takes effect. Temperatures in some parts of the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys could be as high as 112 degrees at the end of the week.
"We have some high pressure building in from the desert southwest which is basically going to lead to some pretty warm conditions across the regions, pretty widespread," said Sierra Littlefield, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "What that means is we're not going to see much relief from the heat and it's going to compound over several days. It'll impact elderly, definitely kids, pets, possibly livestock as well."
She says you should stay out of the sun, drink plenty of fluids, be in an air-conditioned building and check-up on vulnerable relatives and neighbors. By Sunday, temperatures are expected to be back in the mid 90s.
"The overnight lows are also going to be on the warm side, possibly close to 70," Littlefield said. "Definitely is going to be some heat risk for the entire population so it would be wise to plan ahead and just make sure that you are prepared for some pretty warm conditions lasting over several days."
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