Record Power Usage Could Come With California Heat Wave

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California generated a record amount of solar energy this weekend: nearly 10,000 Megawatts of power. That makes it easier to ensure that enough energy gets to the entire state.

“We’re seeing exponential growth in our solar-energy installations,” said Anne Gonzales, spokesperson for California Independent Systems Operator.

The organization controls the state’s power grid and it’s been keeping an eye on the high temperatures since Friday. But back-to-back days of triple-digit numbers make it challenging to keep all of the grids up and running.

“This is where all of that planning comes into play,” Gonzales said. “A difference in one or two degrees can mean a difference in the megawatts that we have to supply to utilities.”

They’ve told electric companies to reduce strain on the power grid by not shutting down power plants for maintenance. Tuesday is expected to see the highest amount of energy used in California in 10 years.

“It’s not a good time to wash down the equipment this week,” Gonzales said. “We need you to be online and ready.”

Between the high Sierra snow melt creating more hydropower and record solar power generation, Gonzales is confident there will be enough power to go around.

“June, July, and August are very sunny months and lots of solar energy can be produced,” she said.

Still, high temperatures mean high stress on power lines.

“There was kind of a pop and then everything went quiet and went dark and got hot,” said Tom Grant, who lives in the Arden area.

About 200 homes in his neighborhood lost power for nearly two hours after a fuse blew overhead.

“We did our best just to kind of keep down and keep cool and not move around til we needed to,” Grant explained.

CAL ISO just issued a flex alert for the next two days asking Californians to conserve electricity during the late afternoon, when air conditioners are typically at peak use. CAL ISO asks that between 2 and 9 p.m., consumers turn out unneeded lights, set the AC to 78 degrees or higher, and run pool pumps at night, instead of during the day.

“We usually get a good response and it’s one of the most powerful things that we have at our disposal,” Gonzales said.

But cutting back on AC isn’t ideal for people who plan to be home during the hottest time of the day.

“I hope this isn’t the beginning of a long week for all of us but it could be,” Grant said.

More from Macy Jenkins
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