California’s grid operator called a stage 3 emergency throughout the state at 5:17 p.m. on Tuesday as the West continued to bake under an unprecedented September heat wave. Stage 3, which signals imminent blackouts and urges maximal conservation, is the last step before mandatory outages are imposed.
Following suit at 5:45 p.m., the California Office of Emergency Services sent out cell phone alerts urging state residents to “conserve energy now to protect public health and safety.”
However, the state dodged rotating outages, except for some municipal utilities in the San Francisco Bay area, despite setting a new power peak demand record of 52,061 MW. The previous all-time high was in 2006 when demand hit 50,270 MW on July 24 during what was then dubbed a “heat storm.” At that time, the temperature hit 119⁰ F. in Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley and was similarly extreme throughout the state.
In its early evening appeal yesterday for continued voluntary power conservation, the California Independent System Operator noted the last time the state experienced rotating outages due to power demand outstripping available supply was August of 2020. Yet, at that time peak demand levels remained below yesterday’s record.
Wednesday morning CAISO projected peak demand would hit 51,125 MW at 4:45 p.m. today. The grid operator noted that on Thursday, demand was likely to peak at an even higher level of 51,318 MW.
Yesterday’s record peak demand came as temperatures throughout most of the state exceeded 100⁰ F. In some places, temperatures hit record highs for the date, including Sacramento and Santa Rosa, both of which peaked at 116⁰ F.
In Southern California, Burbank set a new record hitting 110⁰ F.
The National Weather Service on Wednesday morning was forecasting no break in the heat wave, which began on Aug. 31. Weather forecasters on Wednesday were forecasting that extreme heat would continue through Friday, with temperatures reaching up to 110⁰ F in inland valleys and up to 95⁰ F along the coast.