California’s electric grid operator is warning that power demand could exceed supply on Labor Day, potentially forcing officials to order PG&E and other utilities to start rolling blackouts to avoid widespread power outages in the West.
Here are some steps you can take now to stay informed and help prevent blackouts during this heat wave.
First, check MercuryNews.com or EastBayTimes.com and follow @mercnews or @eastbaytimes.com on Twitter for the latest updates on the heat wave and whether conservation hasn’t been sufficient and rolling blackouts will start. The FlexAlert.org, California Independent System Operator and PG&E websites and their Twitter accounts @flexalert, @California_ISO and @PGE4Me will also have the latest updates.
Second, if the ISO does order rolling blackouts, here is how you can check to see if PG&E has included your home in the power outage list. The last time California had rolling power outages was in August 2020, when more than 800,000 utility customers around the state lost power for up to two hours each day.
Finally, here are 4 steps you should take before today’s Flex Alert takes effect from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and 5 more to take when conservation becomes urgent during that period to keep power demand below the available electrical supply.
Prior to the Flex Alert period:
- Use major appliances only if needed. Ovens and washing machines would be examples.
- Pre-cool your home with your air conditioner.
- Draw the shades on windows to reduce heat from the sun.
- Charge phones and other devices. Electric cars should be charged overnight.
During the Flex Alert period:
- Turn your air conditioner up to at least 78 degrees if health permits.
- Unplug any unused devices and turn off power strips. The Department of Energy estimates that a typical family spends $100 a year powering devices in standby mode.
- Use fans for cooling.
- Turn off all lights that aren’t needed.
- Avoid using major appliances such as ovens, washers and dryers, and don’t charge your electric vehicle.
Source: California Independent System Operator and FlexAlert.org