The US state of California’s power grid operator has declared an energy emergency, warning that it may institute rolling blackouts to curb a surge in demand, which has hit all-time record highs as residents crank up their air conditioning to escape an unprecedented heat wave.
The California Independent System Operator (ISO) issued a level 3 emergency alert on Tuesday night, saying electricity supplies were beginning to “run low in the face of record heat and demand,” and that there could be outages.
“If needed, ISO could order utilities to begin rotating power outages to maintain stability of the electric grid,” the agency said, adding that Tuesday’s peak electricity demand is expected to exceed 52,000 megawatts, “a new historic all-time high for the grid.”
The ISO went on to explain that “contained” power outages will help to “maintain reliability and avoid cascading blackouts,” ensuring the system “doesn’t collapse into uncontrolled, unplanned power failures.”
The California state government has taken other emergency measures to address the extreme heat wave in recent days, including efforts to increase energy production and protect the power grid, with Governor Gavin Newsom’s office warning of “triple-digit temperatures forecasted through Friday.”
“Californians have stepped up in a big way during this record heat wave, but with the hottest temperatures here now, the risk of outages is real,” the governor said on Tuesday. “We all have to double down on conserving energy to reduce the unprecedented strain on the grid. We need everyone – individuals, businesses, the state and energy producers – to do their part in the coming days and help California continue to meet this challenge.”
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