PG&E warns 525,000-plus customers to prepare for rolling blackouts

OAKLAND — For a second day in a row, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. warned more than half a million customers to prepare for possible rolling blackouts as a historic heat wave continued.

PG&E on Wednesday notified 525,277 customers that their power could be turned off. In a statement, the utility said the outages would affect customers for one to two hours.

“Rotating outages would relieve stress on the grid to help prevent more widespread outages,” PG&E said.

PG&E customers can visit to check if their area may be affected.

As of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, the California Independent System Operator, which oversees the state’s power grid, had not directed PG&E or any other utilities to implement rotating outages. The ISO, however, issued an Energy Emergency Alert 2, one level below the highest alert that would indicate rolling blackouts are imminent.

The ISO also called yet another Flex Alert. Residents were urged to conserve electricity by setting thermostats to 78 degrees, unplugging unused electronic devices and turning off unnecessary lights. Both alerts were scheduled to run from 4 to 9 p.m.

Electricity demand on Wednesday was expected to peak at 50,132 megawatts. The demand as of 8:45 p.m. was 44,652 megawatts and falling, according to the ISO’s website.

On Tuesday, the heat wave drove electricity demand to a new record of 52,061 megawatts and pushed the power grid closer to overloading than it’s been in two years, but widespread power outages were ultimately avoided thanks in part to conservation efforts.

PG&E on the same day notified 525,000 customers that rolling blackouts were possible.

Temperatures on Tuesday hit 116 degrees in Livermore, 115 in Santa Rosa, 114 in Napa, 110 in Redwood City and 109 in San Jose, setting or tying all-time record highs.

Wednesday’s highs included 107 in Livermore and Gilroy, 103 in Concord, 101 in Santa Rosa and 98 in Redwood City.

While no rotating outages have taken place, some customers have lost power due to heat-related equipment failure. PG&E on Wednesday was working to restore power to nearly 24,000 customers, including 21,283 in the South Bay and 1,077 in the East Bay.

Check back for updates.

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Author: Jason Green