OAKLAND, Calif. - As a major summer heat wave continues to blanket the West, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is helping customers reduce demand on the grid and positioning its crews to respond to potential heat-related power outages in the coming days.
The ongoing summer heat wave has prompted the state's grid operator, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), to call a Flex Alert for the fifth straight day, urging consumers to reduce energy usage from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. today to help reduce stress on the statewide power grid.
The forecast throughout the Western region calls for continued high temperatures, breaking records in some areas. Conditions are expected to intensify on Labor Day Monday and Tuesday. The state grid operator is forecasting Tuesday's peak statewide electricity demand to be 50,087 megawatts (MW), which is just below the record of 50,270 MW set in 2006.
Widespread heat events pose unique challenges to the state's energy grid. In addition to the energy supply concerns driving Flex Alerts, sustained high temperatures have the potential to damage electrical equipment, leading to local outages. PG&E has activated its Emergency Operations Center and is mobilizing the necessary personnel and materials to be able to restore power safely and efficiently.
PG&E Programs Encourage Conservation
PG&E appreciates its customers for answering the call for conservation and for participating in the company's energy-saving programs.
Enrolled customers who reduce energy use between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. will receive a credit on their bill at the end of the season. There is no cost or penalty for not reducing energy. Visit powersaver.pge.com to easily enroll and learn more about the program.
Customers can also help reduce the amount of power on the grid during a Flex Alert by enrolling in PG&E's SmartAC program, which cycles the air conditioner on and off every 15 minutes for up to six hours on event days. This year, new participants will receive $75 for existing thermostats or $120 off a new purchase of a thermostat with enrollment. Customers cannot be enrolled in both the SmartAC and Power Saver Rewards Programs.
How Customers Can Reduce Energy Today
Here are ways for PG&E customers to reduce stress on statewide power supply:
Today, before 4 p.m.:
Pre-cool home or workspace. Lower the thermostat in the morning. As the temperature rises outside, raise the thermostat, and circulate the pre-cooled air with a fan.
Use major appliances, including:
Washer and dryer
Oven and stove for pre-cooking and preparing meals
Charge electric vehicles.
Close shades: Sunlight passing through windows heats the home and makes the air conditioner work harder. Block this heat by keeping blinds or drapes closed on the sunny side of the home.
Today, during the Flex Alert from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.:
Set thermostat at 78 degrees or higher, health permitting: Every degree above 78 represents an appropriately 2% savings on cooling costs.
When it's cooler outside, bring the cool air in: If the outside air is cool during the night or early morning, open windows and doors and use fans to cool your home.
Avoid using major appliances.
Turn off all unnecessary lights.
Avoid charging electric vehicles.
How Customers Can Prepare for Potential Power Outages
PG&E has a plan to respond to heat-related power outages and encourages customers to prepare as well.
Have a flashlight, radios, and fresh batteries ready. For more information on how to prepare for an emergency, visit PG&E's Safety Action Center.
Use cooling centers to stay cool or during a power outage. Check with your city or county, or the Governor's Office of Emergency Services list and map of cooling centers statewide.
Operate personal generators safely. Follow the owner's manual and perform a visual inspection before starting or operating a generator. When setting up a generator, place it on a flat, stable surface to reduce the likelihood of it tipping over. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, never operate an engine-powered generator in an enclosed space or inside a house or a tent.
PG&E does not project a need for a Public Safety Power Shutoff due to this weather, but the company's meteorology team continues to monitor conditions.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.