California is facing potential rotating power outages on Tuesday evening amid a stubborn scorching heatwave which has forecasted to push electricity to an all-time high. 

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) declared an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) 2 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. tonight, asking residents to ramp up energy conservation efforts. This would allow the ISO to tap into emergency demand response programs that provide financial incentives for reducing energy use.

The ISO is expected to declare an EEA 3 around 5:30 p.m., one step away from ordering rotating power outages. If that occurs, consumers should expect communications – either phone, text, or email – from their utilities notifying them of outage areas and likely durations. 

An emergency declaration Monday evening pulled additional resources onto the system as the grid dipped into reserves, threatening further emergency actions. According to the state’s grid manager, peak demand was 49,020  megawatts (MW), but consumer conservation, imports, and emergency resources fended off outages.

Officials forecast the electricity demand to exceed 52,000 MW, a historic all-time high for the grid. 

“As the state faces the hottest day in this prolonged, record-breaking heat wave, grid conditions are expected to worsen,” the ISO wrote in a new release. 

Rotating power outages, or small-scale, contained, controlled interruptions in power, can help maintain reliability and avoid cascading blackouts, according to the ISO. When the ISO determines that supplies are not sufficient to meet demand, it can issue an EEA 3, and then if reserves are exhausted, it would order utilities to begin outages to bring demand back in line with available supplies.    

The state’s grid manager said that consumer and commercial demand response, including Flex Alerts, has been helping to extend sparse supplies at critical hours. 

From 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., consumers are urged to set thermostats to 78 degrees, avoid the use of major appliances, and turn out unnecessary lights. Reducing demand on the system at a critical time can help prevent possible power outages.

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