UPDATED 1:26 PM PT – Thursday, September 1, 2022
California is getting scorched by a record-breaking heat-wave. Record temperatures in the Golden State have officials concerned that the state’s power grid won’t keep up with demand.
It’s expected to be 10-to-20 degrees warmer than normal across the state throughout this Labor Day weekend, with temperatures reaching 115-degrees in the inland valleys and into the triple digits along the coast. The National Weather Service is calling it an extraordinary heat event.
The sweltering temperatures will have residents cranking up air-conditioners, fans and swamp coolers. The increase in electricity means an added stress on the energy grid. Alice Reynolds, President of California Public Utilities Commission is worried about the complications that might arise from the increased heat.
“If we get into an extreme event we’ll see,” Reynolds remarked. “We’re worried, very humble about what might happen.”
An ongoing drought has greatly reduced the state’s ability to generate hydroelectric power. This heat-wave will affect the entire western US, so California will be unable to depend on neighboring states for help. In response, Governor Gavin Newsom has proclaimed a state of emergency.
“It puts us in a position where we have some vulnerabilities,” Newsom said. “ Uh and that means we need to do things a little bit differently, not just on the demand side to meet that potential peak, particularly coming into this weekend, Sunday and Monday, but also on the supply side.”
The California Independent System Operator is taking measures to bring all available resources online. “Restricted maintenance operations” were issued through Tuesday, September sixth in order to ensure all generators and transmission lines are in service.
The state’s Grid Manager also issued a “flex alert,” calling on residents to conserve energy in the afternoon and in the evening hours. This means people will be asked to turn thermostats up above 78-degrees, must avoid using large appliances and must not charge their electric vehicles between 4:00 pm and 9:00pm.
We are looking at another heat wave in the western United States, including CA.
Heat waves may have existed long before climate change, but their duration and intensity have never been more challenging.
Visit https://t.co/j4p2wm6Qa3 for more information and ways to stay cool. pic.twitter.com/jlanr3tf7A
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) September 1, 2022
This comes just days after the state finalized regulations to ban the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035, signaling that California’s eyes may be bigger than its stomach as its infrastructure can’t handle its renewable energy ambitions. The state has struggled with rolling blackouts over the past several years after shutting-down all but one of its nuclear power plants. Michael Wara, a lawyer at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment spoke on the topic.
“You have to make sure as you shut the dirty thing down, the clean thing is already up and running (and) you’re going to have a problem,” Wara said. “And that was maybe what was exposed a little bit a couple years ago.”
Experts are saying this weekend will be a big test for the changes California has made since 2020.