UPDATED 5:20 p.m., Sunday, August 16, 2020 - Rolling power outages are very possibly back in the picture for some Californians Sunday night, for the third night in a row. According to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), those outages are expected in portions of San Francisco, San Mateo, and Contra Costa counties. No customers should be impacted overnight, said PG&E.
Outages are being called "likely" Sunday night by PG&E. If they take place, they are expected to impact 210,000 people in the early to late evening. Outages are expected to take place from early to late evening.
UPDATED 7:33 p.m., Saturday, August 15, 2020 - Based on current power usage forecasts, the state’s electric grid operator, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), has directed Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to conduct rotating power outages in the early to late evening Saturday.
Expected Impacts of Saturday Outages
The outages are expected to affect approximately 220,000 PG&E customers in portions of the Central Coast and Central Valley, including Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Joaquin counties. No customers should be impacted overnight.
PG&E’s Emergency Operations Center is activated. The team has already restored some customers who were part of the outages.
Reason for Rotating Outages
These outages are being called because the state’s energy supply is not enough to adequately meet anticipated demand during the statewide heatwave. Other power utilities in the state are being directed to conduct similar rotating outages.
These outages are not Public Safety Power Shutoffs, which are called during specific high fire threat conditions, and they are not related to any issues with PG&E’s equipment or its ability to deliver energy locally.
“This is a statewide issue that we are working together with CAISO and many stakeholders to address. We know how important it is to have access to reliable power during these times, and we are doing everything we can to limit the impacts. Our team is working diligently to keep these rotating outages as short as possible, so that there is no further impact to the grid," said PG&E representatives on Saturday night.
"We appreciate our customers’ patience as we work to restore power to everyone this evening. We urge all of our customers to take immediate steps to reduce their power usage,” said Michael Lewis, Interim President of PG&E.
UPDATED 6:30 p.m., Saturday, August 15, 2020 - NBC Bay Area has reported that the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) has announced that it expects to "cover electrical demand with no stage emergencies planned at this time."
UPDATE 2:30 p.m., Saturday, August 15, 2020 - According to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), rotating power outages may occur Saturday night between 5:00 and 10:00 p.m. in California.
A final decision by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) will be made later in the day on Saturday.
The power outages are expected to last one to two hours at a time. No customers should be impacted overnight, according to PG&E.
A lot of cloud cover in Southern California is impacting solar energy systems. that coupled with the hot weather are causing the issues, according to PG&E.
No final decisions have been made to proceed with rotating outages by CAISO at this time. Other power utilities in the state may be requested to take similar measures. Citizens are asked to reduce their emergency use through Wednesday.
UPDATE 1:38 p.m., Saturday, August 15, 2020 - PG&E is urging energy conservation during this heatwave, which is expected to peak Monday and Tuesday of next week. Immediate instructions including a request to take steps to reduce power usage until late Saturday evening.
Here are some things you can do to cut down your energy usage during this heatwave.
PG&E does not anticipate initiating any Public Safety Power Shutoff events for the next week. Any power outages that occur during this hot spell are not PSPS events.
Transformer failure is the top cause of heat-related outages that may fall outside of any direction from CAISO to initiate rotating power shutoffs. Transformers, which help distribute power to homes and businesses, need periods of time when they can cool down, and that usually happens overnight, when temperatures drop. When we have unusual heat events with sustained high overnight temperatures, transformers are unable to cool down. That puts stress on the transformer’s components, and they can become fatigued and can fail.
o Adjust your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher or turn it off if you will be away from home. Use a fan instead of air conditioning when possible.
o Draw drapes and turn off unnecessary lighting.
o Keep refrigerator full (with bottles of water if nothing else) and unplug the second refrigerator.
o Avoid using electrical appliances and devices. Put off tasks like vacuuming, laundry, dish washing and computer time until after dinner (6 p.m.).
o Set your pool pump to run overnight instead of during the day.
UPDATE 12:05 p.m., Saturday, August 15, 2020 - The last time the state ordered rolling outages was during an energy crisis in 2011. In the North State, rotating power outages have not occurred in the service area since 2001, said Paul Moreno of PG&E.
Power grid operators say they'll decide whether to continue the outages on a day-to-day basis.
Alerts will be sent out if they reach Stage 2. If they reach Stage 3 rotating outages will be implemented.
Using lots of air conditioning can put transformers in neighborhoods at risk by overstressing them, Moreno explained, saying the problem is usually worse in communities that tend to stay cooler in the summer. It is not a problem as often in areas like the valley where intense summer heat is inspected, Moreno explained.
UPDATE: 8:57 p.m., Friday, August 14, 2020 - PG&E Spokesperson Paul Moreno says as of now at 9 p.m., the north valley is not being impacted by the shutoffs. Any outages customers are experiencing are unrelated.
CALIFORNIA - The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) has declared a Stage 3 Electrical Emergency, directing utilities, including PG&E, to begin "rotating power outages" through 11 p.m. on Friday.
CAISO says this is due to high heat and increased electricity demand and will impact customers throughout the state.
PG&E said hundreds of thousands of customers at a time will be impacted "given the strain on the power grid during the statewide heatwave."
Spokesperson Paul Moreno says PG&E has already started the shutoffs and in the first round, power has not been turned off in the North Valley.
In a press release, the utility said following the direction from CAISO, power will be turned off in rotating blocks until about 11 p.m. on Friday night. Each "block" could have no power for about an hour.
"Californians are being urged to continue to conserve power until 11 p.m. tonight to reduce power usage as supplies run tight during the peak period today," the company said.
PG&E said these are not Public Safety Power Shutoffs, which are conducted during high fire threat conditions.
Due to the emergency, the utility said it will be "unable to notify customers in advance of the power shutoffs, which could occur anywhere within PG&E’s service area."
PG&E said these shutoffs will impact about 200,000 to 250,000 customers during each given "block".
CAISO oversees the larger power grid and is who instructed PG&E, and other power utilities, to turn off power.
The Stage 3 Emergency Declaration was called "after extreme heat drove up electricity demand" across the state.
While this is an inconvenience, CAISO said it is preferable to manage the emergency with controlled measures rather than "let it cause widespread and more prolonged disruption."
CAISO said it is working closely with California utilities to manage the strain on the grid and restore the power grid to full capacity.
"[The Aug. 14] heatwave greatly increased power demand and has the potential to outstrip resources for a few hours today," PG&E said.
The utility said it has already implemented programs with key customers to reduce power usage but asks for customers to also reduce overall power use.
“The safety of our customers and the communities that we serve is PG&E’s most important responsibility,” said Michael Lewis, Interim President of PG&E. "We urge our customers to take immediate steps to reduce their power usage. We will work to restore power safely and as quickly as we are able."