An intense heatwave hits California with temperatures approaching 40 degrees Celsius. This had overloaded the region’s electrical system due to high energy demand causing blackouts. The company that manages the network initially ruled out a recurrence of this scenario, but later declared a level 3 emergency.
California Independent System Operator (California ISO) ordered the first rotating power outages in nearly 20 years last Friday, August 14, when it asked the state’s power companies to suspend electricity supplies. The three largest electric utilities in the state Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas Electric left more than 410,000 homes and businesses without electricity.
Additionally, due to a power outage, a pump at a treatment plant in Oakland stopped working, causing sewage to drain out the sewer and spill 50,000 gallons (189,270 litres) into a waterway, the East Bay Municipal Services District said.
The next day, Pacific Gas & Electric announced that it had initiated rotating outages affecting approximately 250,000 customers following an order from the California grid operator. The company urged customers to “conserve energy,” echoing its previous heatwave guidelines that also include a recommendation to keep windows covered and refrain from using electrical appliances.
At direction of California’s Grid Operator- PG&E has initiated a rotating outage impacting approximately 200K – 250k customers. More information to come. Please conserve energy. Thank you for your patience. https://t.co/O213eqyJpF
— PG&E (@PGE4Me) August 16, 2020
On Saturday afternoon, California ISO reported that it did not need to order the interruption of the electricity supply since the network had the capacity to support the energy consumption. However, it then announced a new Level 3 emergency, declared when demand begins to exceed available supply.
The #ISO declared a Stage 3 Emergency at 6:28 p.m., due to increased electricity demand, the unexpected loss of a 470-MW power plant, and loss of 1,000 MW of wind power. Power was ordered restored at 6:48 p.m., as wind resources increased. https://t.co/HpLZ3uGjB0
— California ISO (@California_ISO) August 16, 2020
The measure was adopted in the state because the heat reached at least 38 ° C in many areas and the use of air conditioners increased.
High temperatures are affecting half of the US territory. From Texas to California and all the way up the coast to Washington State, the heat punishes millions of Americans with sweltering temperatures for these latitudes. Meteorologists warn that this weather will continue for at least 10 more days, in which the electrical service will be tested.