An estimated 300,000 customers throughout California lost electricity Friday night as the state’s intricate electrical system was unable to keep up with power demand during an excessive heat wave.
Shortly after 6:30PM, the California Independent System Operator (Cal ISO) which controls power flow throughout much of the state issued a Stage 3 power emergency after demand outstripped supply with temperatures reaching 120 degrees in some parts of the state.
While an estimated 130,000 customers in the Southern California Edison service area were impacted, the largest outages occurred in Northern California. KCRA-TV in Sacramento reported that power was cut to parts of El Dorado County around 6:30 PM and by 10:00 PM it had still not been restored. Motorists needing gasoline say they were stranded as gas stations had to shut down. A Safeway store in Placerville also closed as the power went out.
But in a statement issued at 9:00PM, Cal ISO said,“Power that had been disrupted as part of the emergency has been restored statewide. The grid operator went into Stage 3 Emergency at 6:36 p.m., ordering utilities to implement rotating power outages to protect the stability of the grid. By 7:51 p.m., the grid had stabilized, and utilities began restoring 1,000 megawatts of electricity that had been taken out of service. The emergency declaration was lifted at 8:54 p.m. The ISO’s grid operators are closely monitoring supply and demand during the extreme heat event.”
In the Coachella Valley, 2000 customers lost electricity in Palm Desert after a trucked clipped power lines just after 5:00PM. In Palm Springs, hundreds of customers were without power around 6:00PM in the Deep Well area. That power was restored before 8:00PM. Southern California Edison could not confirm if that outage was related to the rolling blackouts mandated by Cal ISO. However, Edison did issue a release saying 132,000 of its customers throughout southern California were part of the forced blackouts.
It has been 19 years since Californians faced rotating outages due to a shortage of electricity.
The outages are a result on a exceptional air conditioning demand due to record breaking weather. Palm Springs experienced a high temperature of 120, Needles 119, and Death Valley 121. At 10:00PM, the temperature in Palm Springs was still 107. But even large urban areas were in record territory. San Francisco broke records with a high of 90 degrees, San Jose hit 99. In Southern California, an excessive heat warning remains in effect until next Wednesday with highs in the desert in the 115 to 120 range.
Demand on the power grid is expected to drop slightly over the weekend as office buildings close. As of 9:40 Saturday morning, Cal ISO had not issued a power Flex alert nor a power warning. But with temperatures expected to be record breaking through the middle of next week, there are chances that more blackouts will be warranted next week.