As a growing wildfire in Southern Oregon threatens transmission lines used to import energy to California, coupled with continued extreme temperatures across much of the state, California’s grid operator is asking residents to voluntarily conserve electricity this afternoon and evening to help ease the strain on the grid during crucial evening hours.
The Flex Alert, called by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), was issued Friday and extended to Saturday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. The grid operator noted that when Flex Alerts were called last month, consumers united to significantly reduce their energy use. That allowed the grid operator to avoid or limit possible rotating power outages that can become necessary when demand for electricity outstrips capacity.
The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings through the weekend for many regions within PG&E’s service territory. The grid operator’s statewide Flex Alert for Saturday asks all Californians to work together and conserve electricity.
Saving Energy at Home
Here are five ways Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) customers can cut their power use and help keep the lights (and air conditioning) on for everyone:
- Pre-cool your home or workspace. Lower your thermostat in the morning. As the temperature rises outside, raise your thermostat and circulate the pre-cooled air with a fan.
- 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.
- 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.
- Charge your EVs outside peak hours. Along with using large appliances, remember to charge your electric vehicle in the morning or after 9 p.m.
- Clear the area around your AC unit: Your air-conditioning unit will operate more efficiently 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.
PG&E’s Demand Response programs offer incentives for business owners and residential customers who curtail their energy use during times of peak demand. PG&E has several of these programs, totaling about 261,000 enrolled PG&E customers.
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.
PG&E is prepared for this extreme heat and, based on forecasts, doesn’t anticipate issues meeting increased demand for power.
Also, at this time, the grid operator has not indicated that it plans to call for rotating outages. PG&E does not project a need for a Public Safety Power Shutoff due to this weather, but the company’s meteorology team will continuously monitor conditions.
PG&E also urges customers to stay safe during this heat wave. The company funds cooling centers throughout its service area to help customers escape the heat and cool off. To find a center near you click here or call 1-877-474-3266.
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.