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State’s Grid Operator Calls ‘Flex Alert’ For Thursday

With triple-digit heat forecast for Thursday, Oct. 1, the state’s grid operator is calling for afternoon and evening energy conservation as one way to make sure that the supply of power stays ahead of demand.

The Flex Alert, called by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), has been issued for Thursday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. With high temperatures in the forecast, the grid operator is predicting an increase in electricity demand, primarily from air conditioning use. Reduced capacity, along with fire activity and heat, has led to a potential shortage of energy supply tomorrow evening, CAISO says.

Here are five ways residents can cut their power use and help keep the lights (and air conditioning) on for everyone:

• When it’s cooler outside, bring the cool air in: If the outside air is cool in the night or early morning, open windows and doors and use fans to cool your home.

• Close your shades: Sunlight passing through windows heats your home and makes your air conditioner work harder. Block this heat by keeping blinds or drapes closed on the sunny side of your home.

• Cool down with a fan: Fans keep air circulating, allowing you to raise the thermostat a few degrees and stay just as comfortable while reducing your air-conditioning costs.

• Clear the area around your AC: Your air conditioning unit will operate better if it has plenty of room to breathe. The air conditioner’s outdoor unit, the condenser, needs to be able to circulate air without any interruption or obstruction. Also, dirty air filters make your air conditioner work harder to circulate air. By cleaning or replacing your filters monthly, you can improve energy efficiency and reduce costs.

• Set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher, health permitting: Every degree you lower the thermostat means your air conditioner must work even harder to keep your home cool.

Temperatures are forecast to reach into the 90s across the San Joaquin Valley and neighboring intermediate valleys to the west on Thursday. High pressure will begin to slightly weaken on Friday, and temperatures will begin a cool-down for the weekend.

Breezy north-northwest winds up to 30 mph are possible along the coast and coastal gaps and peaks through the day Thursday and Friday. PG&E does not project a need for a Public Safety Power Shutoff due to this weather, but conditions will be continuously monitored.

Customers can actively help by shifting energy use to morning and nighttime hours. Conservation can lower demand and reduce the duration of possible power interruptions. In August, when California experienced its first rotating outages in two decades, conservation limited the effects to two nights rather than three or four. And, similarly, conservation over the very hot Labor Day weekend prevented the need for rotating outages.

At this point, CAISO has given no indication that it will call for rotating outages.