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Extreme heat prompts Flex Alert for San Diego, California residents

Posted at 6:05 PM, Jul 08, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — California's utility grid operator issued a Flex Alert for residents on Friday as officials anticipate extreme heat across the region.

Thursday, California ISO issued the statewide alert for Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. The alert asks that residents reduce their energy usage during that time to ease the strain on the state's energy capacity and the electric grid.

"As a result of higher load, and supply forecasted to be tighter than expected on Friday, consumers are asked to voluntarily conserve electricity from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Such conservation would help ease the strain on the grid during the crucial evening hours when solar energy is diminished or no longer available," the agency said in a release.

To conserve power during a Flex Alert, residents are asked to:

  • Set thermostats to 78 or higher, if health permits;
  • Avoid using major appliances; and
  • Turn off unnecessary lights;
  • During the day, residents can pre-cool their homes, use major appliances, and charge electronics to avoid power use later in the day.

Consumers are also encouraged to use fans for cooling and unplug unused electrical items.

This is the second state-wide Flex Alert issued in California so far in 2021. In 2020, there were five issued. Cal ISO leaders said they did see a larger load on the energy grid during 2020 because so many people were working from home. In 2019 there was one Flex Alert issued and in 2018 there were two.

Cal ISO CEO and President Elliot Mainzer said heat is the number one cause for Flex Alerts, but also other factors can cause a strain on the power grid, including generator outages and down transmission lines.

Mainzer said California is putting on emphasis on moving toward clean energy, but that process will take years, so it's they're asking residents to continue to help in the meantime.

"For the next few years as the state is really putting additional clean capacity in the system to complement the solar and wind resources and to help during those after sunset periods, we’re going to be needing some help from consumers during that 4 to 9 period," said Mainzer.

Mainzer added that taking steps to help during these Flex Alerts can go a long way.

"That time of the day on a Friday night, it’s really just those minor adjustments to the thermostats, that move up to 78º or above, really trying to shift big appliance utilization out of the evening, and look if you’ve got a room that nobody is in, turn off those unnecessary lights. Those specific actions right there aggravated over hundreds of thousands, potentially millions of consumers will shift the demand curve for California," said Mainzer.

Flex Alerts are triggered when the power grid is strained too much, and Mainzer said that decision is made the day prior. He said around 1:30 p.m., they analyze how much power is available then make the decision if a Flex Alert needs to be issued the next day.