California Reaches Highest Energy Costs Since 2020 Outages; Residents Are Asked To Reduce Power Use
Extreme Heat Expected In California Through Labor Day Weekend Electrical transmission towers during a heatwave in Vallejo, California, US, on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022. Blisteringly hot temperatures and a rash of wildfires are posing a twin threat to Californias power grid as a heat wave smothering the region peaks in the days ahead. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images Bloomberg / Contributor
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Contributor via Getty Images

California energy prices hit their highest levels since the summer of 2020 on Tuesday.

Energy costs in the Golden State, as well as those in other nearby states, reached the steepest levels in two years on Tuesday as the area struggles under a heat wave that has gone on for days.

The California Independent System Operator asked consumers to save energy on Tuesday for the seventh day in a row, according to Reuters.

“We have now entered the most intense phase of this heat wave,” Elliot Mainzer, CEO of the California Independent System Operator, said at a press conference on Monday. “Forecasted demand for Monday and Tuesday is at all-time record levels and the potential for rotating outages has increased significantly.”

The ISO put out an Energy Emergency Alert Watch to go on from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, which means that energy shortages are anticipated and the group will continue to receive more power from additional sources in order to assist in preventing a rolling blackout, according to KCRA.

“We need a reduction in energy use that is two or three times greater than what we’ve seen so far as this historic heat wave continues to intensify,” Mainzer reportedly said in a release.

In a video Tuesday, Democratic Governor of California Gavin Newsom reportedly requested that residents “do a little bit more” to keep power available, reportedly saying that a prolonged drought has cut California’s ability to create hydroelectric energy. The governor also signed an executive order to give California wider ability to get energy.

“The reality is we are living in an era of extremes,” Newsom said, per KTLA. “We are anticipating this extreme heat to be a length and duration of which we haven’t experienced in some time. On the supply side we’re challenged by these extremes and on the demand side, not surprisingly, people are turning up the (air conditioning).”

In a Tuesday message on Twitter, Newsom said, “the risk for outages is real and it’s immediate.”

On Monday, a Flex Alert was put out for the sixth day in a row, which requested residents to save power during the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 p.m.

“Your efforts have been making a real difference. For the past two evenings, electricity loads have come in about 1,000 megawatts below our expectations or approximately two percent below forecast,” Mainzer noted Monday.

The ISO noted that it would tell utility companies to begin initiating rolling outages if the need for energy overtaxes the state’s resources. In August of 2020, California experienced rolling power outages, which was the last time the ISO told utility companies to cut power. The demand lasted for two days and outages impacted around 800,000 homes and businesses. The power went out from 15 minutes to over two hours.

“We never want to get to that point, of course,” Mainzer said, “but we want everyone to be prepared and understand what is at stake.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the current energy capacity was at 58,419 megawatts, with a projected peak of 52,285 megawatts.

The state has struggled to keep up with energy demand in recent years as it quickly shifted to renewable sources of energy. The legislature recently voted to keep the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant open past its expected closure dates, likely in an attempt to provide the much-needed power to the state as it grapples with high temperatures.

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