California officials warned that three million utility customers could suffer power loss on Sunday night, as record-breaking temperatures occurred in parts of the state.
The California Independent System Operator, which operates most of the state’s electric grid, said it projected a 4,000 megawatt power supply shortage, which is due to lack of imports and forests affecting transmission lines in parts of the state Is partially affected by the fire.
“Perhaps today is our most challenging day of the year”, said Eric Schmidt, the organization’s vice president of operations. “Today without really significant patronage and the help of customers, we would need to roll something out.”
In addition to the heat threat, parts of California may face power shortages throughout the week as wind is expected to run in parts of the state. PG & E Corp.,
The company, which serves 16 million people in Northern and Central California, said on Saturday it could cut power to about 103,000 customers in 17 counties starting Monday to reduce the rust of its electrical equipment.
The National Weather Service issued an extreme heat warning for Southern California this weekend, bringing temperatures to 120 degrees in parts of the region. NWS said it recorded a temperature of 121 degrees Fahrenheit in the Woodland Hills area of Los Angeles on Sunday, the highest temperature ever seen at an official recording station in the county.
The weather has forced residents to shelter their air conditioning units and push electricity demand above average.
The state grid operator called for a blackout for the first time since 2001 last month, as a heat wave was underway in California and other parts of the West. The state’s largest utilities cut power to several hundred customers on two consecutive nights.
There is a danger of being far wider than Sunday’s possible blackout. Because the average California household has 2.96 people, according to census data, the number of affected individuals may exceed three million, although utilities typically do not offer more accurate estimates.
The second possible blackout threat in the PG&E area is a precaution against wild animals. In recent years, California utilities have resorted to so-called “public safety power shut-offs” in which they cut power in some areas, reducing the risk of power lines spreading to the wildfire when wind speeds increase. . Those safeguards are contrasted with rolling blackouts, which gradually pass through targeted cities and towns when power supplies become tight.
California has covered itself for electricity this summer during heat waves in the later hours of the day. In an effort to reduce its dependence on natural-gas power and the resulting carbon-dioxide emissions, the state has virtually eliminated coal-fired generation in favor of renewables.
However, solar-power generation begins to decline in the early hours of the evening, when power usage peaks, reducing available capacity during supply shortages.
When demand increases, California relies more on electricity imported from neighboring states, and natural gas power plants are capable of rapid firing. The grid operator said imports are not readily available until the end of this week as a heat wave has halted supplies in other parts of the West.
On top of that, wildlife in northern and southern parts of California has affected transmission lines carrying power from hydroelectric plants and solar farms. On Sunday afternoon, the grid operator said that it had lost as a generation of 1,400 MW.
Write Catherine Blunt at [email protected]
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