The harmful heat that has blanketed most of the western United States has provided Californians with an excuse to put off washing the dishes and laundry until Thursday.
The California Independent System Operator, which oversees the state's power system, has issued a Flex Alert for Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., urging consumers to save electricity by avoiding running dishwashers, washers, or dryers during those hours. It also advises people to set their air conditioners to at least 78 degrees.
"The nationwide appeal for conservation is important since no state has enough energy available to satisfy all of the heightened demand, especially due to air conditioning consumption," the agency noted in a press statement.
How the Sweltering Temperature Affects the Power Grid
For much of California, the National Weather Service has issued extreme heat advisories. High temperatures of above 100 and 110 degrees have been recorded in some places.
When temperatures are this high, the power agency says nighttime is the most difficult time of day for grid operations since demand stays high. Still, solar energy electricity falls as the sun sets.
Lower evening temperatures, which typically provide some reprieve from the searing heat of the day, are also decreasing as a result of climate change.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, "scorching summer days (highs) have become increasingly regular across the country in recent decades." "The frequency of sweltering summer evenings (lows) has grown much more rapidly. This trend indicates less 'cooling off' at night."
Higher evening temperatures endanger more than just electricity grids.
During a heat wave, certain signs suggest that nights may be more dangerous than days. People's heat stress might worsen if they don't get some reprieve from the heat at night. According to weather.com expert Jonathan Belles, this raises the danger of heat sickness and mortality.
California's electricity system manager believes conservation efforts will be sufficient to get through the current heat wave. If demand continues to outpace supply despite the Flex Alert and other measures, ISO may order utilities to start rotating power outages.
Rolling Blackouts and Power Outages
Rolling blackouts across California during a heat wave last August left more than 350,000 people without power in the late hours. The outages were the first since 2001.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), Texas' major power system operator, advised residents to conserve electricity earlier this week to avert blackouts amid the heat wave.
The request comes only four months after the devastating Winter Storm Uri knocked down power to millions of homes and businesses.
Texas Power Plants
Several power plants in Texas are presently being repaired. According to Bloomberg, the number of generators down is three times what authorities expect for this time of year.
During a briefing, Warren Lasher, a senior director for ERCOT, remarked, "This is quite disturbing." "It's unclear why there are so many units that aren't working."
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