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Historic California heatwave could prompt more blackouts throughout the week

Historic California heatwave could prompt more blackouts throughout the week
Posted at 9:05 AM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 12:21:27-04

Millions of Californians could face energy blackouts this week amid a historic heatwave — a situation described by energy officials as a "perfect storm."

According to The Weather Channel, parts of California and the southwestern U.S. are in the midst of a heatwave that is pushing temperatures to, in some cases, 15 degrees above average. According to Weather Channel forecasts, the heatwave could stick around through the end of the workweek.

The heatwave may have also produced one of the highest temperatures ever recorded on the planet Earth — a temperature reading from Death Valley on Sunday was recorded at 130 degrees, though it still needs to be verified by meteorologists.

The high temperatures caused the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) to issue a State 3 emergency last Friday and Saturday — the first time the agency had done so in about 20 years.

The decision led to some blackouts throughout the state over the weekend, prompting an angry response from Gov. Gavin Newsome.

"These blackouts, which occurred without warning or enough time for preparation, are unacceptable and unbefitting of the nation's largest and most innovative state," Newsom wrote in a letter to CAISO and other California energy agencies.

The agency has warned that if the heatwave persists, it may need to continue rotating blackouts to millions of homes and businesses throughout the week to certain sections of the power grid to prevent overtaxing the system.

CAISO has issued a Flex Alert throughout the state that is currently in effect until Wednesday. The alert calls on Californians to take certain steps to limit energy usage during peak hours of 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Among the recommendations in the Flex Alert are:

  • Setting air conditioning thermostats to 78 degrees, if health permits
  • Deferring the use of major appliances
  • Turning off unnecessary lights
  • Unplugging unused electrical devices
  • Closing blinds and drapes
  • Using fans when possible
  • Limiting time the refrigerator door is open.

In addition to threatening the power grid, California's heatwave has also sparked dozens of wildifires across the state. As of about noon on Tuesday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection was battling 26 active wildfires, which have burned more than 200,000 acres of forest.