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SDG&E: Heat Wave, Outages


Last updated 8/21/2020 at 11:22am

Due to scorching heat taking over most of Southern California and the high energy demand, the California Independent System Operator (Cal ISO) ordered San Diego Gas and Electric and other utilities across the state to begin rotating outages in its service territories.

While the outages were widespread, customers located in High Fire Threat Districts who experience Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS), which includes Borrego Springs, who will not be impacted by the rolling outages that may again be taking place over the next few days.

SDG&E said that there was a “high likelihood” that Cal ISO will order them to implement widespread rotating outages as early as 2 p.m. Aug. 17.

Close to 60,000 customers were impacted for about an hour on Aug. 13 and 14.

The last time the state ordered these rolling outages was during an energy crisis in 2011, as a statewide heat wave strained its electrical system. Blackouts occurred several times from January to May, including one that affected more than 1.5 million customers in March of that year.

The National Weather Service extended the excessive heat warning throughout the week for all portions of Southern California, where temperatures are expected to increase up to 120. The NWS issued the warning until Aug. 17, however, it was no doubt to extend it. Borrego Springs broke two temperature records on back-to-back days. On Aug. 13, the previous record was set in 2012 of 114, and was broken at 117. On Aug. 14, it was a record of 116 set in 1989, and Borrego felt it at 118.

The heat wave is forecasted to last throughout the week of Aug. 17 until Aug. 20.

The record-breaking heat wave with temperatures hitting triple digits in many areas can cause a strain in supplies and if customer conservation measures are not sufficient to reduce strain on the grid, there is a potential that widespread rotating outages would occur throughout the state to meet the exceptionally high energy demand.

“The ISO recognizes that reducing energy use during the hot time of the day is a hardship, especially for those working from home or with children schooling at home. However, if a large number of consumers do their part in small ways, conservation can make a difference,” a statement released by Cal ISO.

Cal ISO also issued a statewide Flex Art, a call for voluntary electricity conservation until Aug. 19. The Flex Alerts are in effect from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. each day.

Prior to 3 p.m., customers can also take these steps to prepare for the Flex Alert:

Pre-cool their home or lower air conditioning to 72 degrees

Charge electric vehicles

Charge mobile devices and laptops

Run dishwashers, washing machines and other major appliances

Set pool pumps to run in the early morning or late at night

Between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m., the ISO is urging consumers to:

Set air conditioning thermostats to 78 degrees, if health permits

Defer use of major appliances

Turn off unnecessary lights

Unplug unused electrical devices

Close blinds and drapes

Use fans when possible

Limit time the refrigerator door is open