Californians asked to lower power consumption when approaching extreme heat


Aug 17 (Reuters) – Californians were urged to reduce electricity use in their homes and businesses on Wednesday as a wave of extreme heat sweeps across much of the state, stretching scarce power supplies to their breaking point.

Temperatures in the most populous state are expected to rise to well over 38 degrees Celsius in the afternoon.

The extreme conditions are the latest sign of climate change impacts in the western United States, where wildfires and severe drought have become a growing threat. As excessive heat waves become more frequent, the strain on energy and water utilities will become more acute, scientists say. Continue reading

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To avoid blackouts, residents and businesses are being asked to turn off lights and appliances and set their thermostats to 78F (26C). Reducing consumption is especially important between 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. local time (11:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. GMT), when demand across the state typically peaks and solar power generation dwindles.

The California grid operator made similar power consumption inquiries during the summer and fall for the past two years as the region experienced multiple bouts of record-breaking hot weather. Power systems withstood heatwaves in 2021, but two-day blackouts in August 2020 left about 400,000 homes without power.

On Wednesday, the California grid operator’s projected power demand of 44,919 megawatts (MW) would hit its highest level since September 2020, when usage hit 47,236 MW. One megawatt can power about 1,000 US homes on a typical day, but only about half on a hot summer day.

As a result, later-day power prices in Southern California and Washington state could climb to their highest levels since September 2021.

Wednesday’s heat also increases the risk of wildfires. The Wishon Fire, a 350-acre fire in Sequoia National Forest, was 35% contained. (Graphic:

On Tuesday, the US government warned that more drastic cuts in water use were needed to protect dwindling supplies in reservoirs vital to the well-being of seven western states.

Two reservoirs — Lake Mead and Lake Powell — fell to just over a quarter of their capacity this summer. If they fall much lower, the lakes will no longer be able to generate hydroelectric power for millions of customers in the West, authorities say. Continue reading

For example, in Big Bar, an unincorporated area of ​​northern California, temperatures could reach 110 degrees F (43 degrees C) on Wednesday, while residents farther north in Electric City, Washington, could see 105 degrees F, the National Weather Service said .

(This story corrects the place name in paragraph 8)

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Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago and Scott DiSavino in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Scott Disavino

Thomson Reuters

Covers the North American power and natural gas markets.


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