Californians Save Energy, Electric Operators’ Eye Thermostat – Santa Monica Daily Press

JANIE HAR

Associated Press

California’s power grid operator praised residents and businesses for their amazing conservation efforts that kept power going Monday night, but warned the state would need a repeat run to overcome another big energy deficit on Tuesday. .

Steve Berberich, president and CEO of the California Independent System Operator, said operators were stunned by the “dramatic flattening” of consumption as of 3 p.m. Monday after his office warned that up to 3.3 million homes and businesses would be affected by the rotating, two-hour cuts. The order was never issued and the warning was cancelled.

“It was astounding the conservation response we got,” he said Tuesday. “I know it’s hot and I know it’s tough, but those same actions today can make all the difference in the world.”

The state is in a multi-day heat wave that stressed the electrical system and led to power outages for two nights last weekend. The strong ridge of high pressure responsible for the heatwave was expected to gradually weaken, but excessively hot weather was expected through the weekend as families stay home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Firefighters worked hard in the blistering heat as numerous wildfires burned across the state, threatening homes, forcing people to flee and fouling the air with smoke far beyond largely rural areas or wild where the flames fed on very dry vegetation.

Evacuations were underway or developing in the Napa County wine country north of San Francisco Bay, near Salinas in Monterey County, around the Oroville Dam north of Sacramento and near the line of state of Nevada north of Lake Tahoe.

A fire in Napa County was burning near remote wine properties owned by Villa Del Lago Winery.

“Our winegrowers had to evacuate very quickly. And we heard this morning that there was zero confinement, so that’s scary. It’s very steep, so I know it’s tough for firefighters to get up there,” said Dawn Phillips, who works in the winery’s customer service department.

In Southern California, evacuations continued for a week-long fire in the mountains of northern Los Angeles County. Dynamic weather brought thunderstorms, bringing the dual threat of lightning-triggered fires and flash flooding.

California’s ISO released the first blackouts in nearly 20 years on Friday, forcing the state’s three largest utilities – Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric – cut off power to more than 410,000 homes and businesses for about a year. hour at a time until the declaration of emergency ends 3½ hours later.

A second, but shorter, outage hit Saturday evening, affecting more than 200,000 customers.

Former Gov. Jerry Brown called the power outages “a kerfuffle, not a crisis,” adding that California’s biggest challenge will be boosting its renewable energy sources to meet increased electricity demand. due to climate change.

“It’s not a big deal, it’s a few hours,” he said. “It’s a nice little warning that we need to step up our climate effort.”

He dismissed the idea that the blackouts were due in part to an overreliance on solar power that could not be sustained during evening temperature spikes. Berberich also said renewables weren’t to blame.

Berberich credited large electricity users, businesses and residential customers for their good work. He said the state could run out of 2,700 megawatts by 7 p.m. Tuesday, which is less than the 4,400 megawatt shortage forecast for Monday. The 4,400 megawatt shortage equates to about 3.3 million homes and businesses.

Governor Gavin Newsom on Sunday signed an emergency proclamation allowing certain energy users and utilities to operate backup power sources, which helped meet Tuesday’s energy needs. He also demanded an investigation into the Friday and Saturday blackouts, calling them “unacceptable and unbecoming of the largest and most innovative state in the country.”

The scorching weather has hit other western states, making it harder for California to import additional power.

Associated Press writers John Antczak and Christopher Weber in Los Angeles and Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento also contributed to this report.