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    Californians get through another scorching day without rolling power outages

    September 9, 2022 - Claire Hao, San Francisco Chronicle


      Sep. 9—Californians once again apparently conserved enough electricity on a scorching hot day to avoid rolling power outages.

      On Thursday, the state's grid operator pushed up by one hour — to 3 p.m. — its request for electricity customers to voluntarily conserve energy primarily because of uncertainty over how renewables would perform in the afternoon and evening.

      One factor contributing to that uncertainty: smoke from the 13,700-acre Mosquito Fire, already blanketing the Folsom area and moving eastward throughout the day and into the evening.

      Smoke and cloud cover could reduce power demand in populated areas, but could also reduce solar power generation by blocking sunlight to solar fields, the grid operator's chief operating officer Mark Rothleder said at a Thursday press call earlier in the day.

      The smoke from Mosquito Fire may affect about 200 megawatts of hydroelectric generation Thursday and about 1,000 megawatts of solar generation Friday, Rothleder said.

      From 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. — one hour ahead of the usual 4 p.m — Californians were encouraged to conserve energy by avoiding the use of major appliances, turning off unnecessary lights and turning up the thermostat to 78 degrees, health-permitting.

      Thursday's peak demand was forecasted to reach 48,761 megawatts at around 4:15 p.m., and by 8:30 p.m. demand had dropped and was at 45,298 megawatts — with a capacity for 51,913 megawatts.

      The grid operator had issued a "Stage 2" emergency for 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. to give operators additional tools to reduce demand and increase supply such as initiating emergency demand response programs, which ask large customers to use backup generators to alleviate strain on the grid.

      If it had progressed to Stage 3, operators could call for rolling outages — something they urgently want to avoid. The grid reached Stage 3 on Tuesday but operators were ultimately able to avert the need for statewide rolling blackouts, though a few cities saw outages due to misunderstanding between utility dispatchers and the grid operator.

      Though strained, the grid saw "a relatively quiet operation" Wednesday, Mainzer said during the press call. This was due to "very strong" out-of-state power imports, good wind energy performance and continued consumer conservation, Mainzer said.

      Demand peaked Wednesday at 50,184 megawatts — the third-highest ever, behind the previous record of 50,270 megawatts set in 2006 and Tuesday's new record of 52,061 megawatts.

      Claire Hao is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email:, Twitter: clairehao_


      (c)2022 the San Francisco Chronicle

      Visit the San Francisco Chronicle at

      Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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