REGION — For the third consecutive day, the California Independent System Operator issued a Flex Alert on Sept. 2 amid soaring temperatures and increasing electricity demands.
The state’s grid operator also issued warnings through Labor Day weekend to avoid rolling blackouts — similar to those experienced during an Aug. 2020 heat wave — noting high temperatures are driving a spike in power consumption due to increased use of air conditioning units.
The Flex Alert asks residents to voluntarily conserve power between 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. as temperatures through the holiday are expected to rise 10 to 20 degrees hotter than usual.
During the hours of the Flex Alert, consumers are encouraged to take the following actions:
- Set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, if your health permits;
- Avoid using major appliances, like dish washers and clothes washers and dryers;
- Turn off all unnecessary lights.
The National Weather Service has also issued an “Excessive Heat Warning” through 8 p.m. on Sept. 5
Both the NWS and CAISO have advised households during the Flex Alert to pre-cool their homes before 4 p.m. and to avoid using major appliances and charging electric vehicles until after 9 p.m.
“Hot weather in California for the first time this summer will align with rising temperatures elsewhere in the West, potentially limiting our ability to import power from neighboring grids,” CAISO said in an email. “A peak load forecast of more than 48,000 megawatts is projected for Monday. We’re monitoring for potential energy supply shortfalls and changes in conditions, such as wildfires or generation or transmission outages, that would impact supplies or the grid.”
According to weather reports, temperatures will be dangerously hot for San Diego County, with some coastal areas reaching up to 98 degrees. Inland temperatures have exceeded 100 degrees.
As for local power supplies and delivery, San Diego Gas & Electric urges residents to adjust their energy usage, pre-cool homes, block the heat from windows and turn off devices when not in use. Also, the utility company recommends residents stay hydrated, eat smaller meals, avoid strenuous activities and wear loose, breathable clothing.
“By all of us doing our part to save electricity and reduce strain on the grid, we can help prevent rotating outages — which are called by CAISO as a last resort to maintain grid stability when the statewide grid can’t keep up with demand,” said SDG&E spokesman Alex Welling.
Diablo Canyon nuclear plant to stay open.
Amid searing heat and energy shortages statewide, the California State Legislature overwhelmingly passed legislation to keep the last nuclear facility in the state open until at least 2030.
The Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County was in the process of decommissioning and expected to close by 2025. However, due to the state’s lack of baseload power — the minimum amount of electric power needed for the electrical grid at any given time, according to the University of Calgary — and expected energy shortages over the next three years, state lawmakers decided to keep the nuclear site open despite backlash from fossil fuel companies and environmentalists.
Steve Nesbit, former president of the American Nuclear Society, a professional association representing people who work in the nuclear field, said his organization was thrilled with the decision.
“We’re excited that the efforts of the many people and organizations that have been fighting to keep Diablo Canyon running have, apparently, been successful,” Nesbit said. “The bill was a very important step for Diablo Canyon, but it’s not the last word. We have a path to success now. I think the real winners are the people of California because Diablo’s operation is critical to having a stable, reliable, clean source of electricity.”
The state Assembly approved the item 67-3, with Tasha Boerner-Horvath (D-Encinitas) voting no, along with Democrats Al Muratsuchi (D-Los Angeles) and Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay).
A message was left with Boerner-Horvath’s office but not returned by deadline.
The decision marks a victory for pro-nuclear advocates who have stumped to keep the plant open, pressuring the legislature to reverse its path away from nuclear energy. The Diablo Canyon power plant generates 2,250 megawatts, accounting for at least 8% of the state’s electricity.
The action allows the Pacific Gas & Electricity-owned facility to take out a $1.4 billion forgivable loan. Still, it must obtain permission from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to continue generating past 2025.
Regardless, the legislature’s action will also make $1 billion available to support projects and accelerate the deployment of clean energy resources, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Nesbit said Diablo’s operation is critical, and California’s energy production, or lack thereof, will only worsen as fossil fuel plants are retired. Renewable sources, like solar and wind, don’t have the reliability compared to nuclear, which runs a stable energy source 24 hours per day, he said.
However, he said solar and wind are essential for the state’s energy portfolio and to reach climate goals but can only produce energy intermittently.
“It’s really evident that you can’t put in place enough energy storage to have an all-renewable electricity supply,” Nesbit said. “It’s really important for the people of California that we were successful. This is a significant point regarding the standing of nuclear energy and its prospects for the future. Clearly, people have realized the clean energy benefits of nuclear.”