FOLSOM, Calif. – With electric transmission lines from Oregon still unreliable due to the explosive Bootleg Fire and continued high temperatures across the West resulting in increased demand for electricity, the California Independent System Operator (ISO) issued a statewide Flex Alert for Monday, July 12 to help stabilize the state’s electric grid and deal with uncertainty created by the extraordinary conditions.
Consumers are strongly encouraged to continue to conserve as much electricity as possible between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. Monday. Conservation is key to reducing stress on the grid during these peak hours.
In addition, the ISO issued a Restricted Maintenance Operations (RMO) for Monday that requires generators to postpone any planned outages for routine equipment maintenance, ensuring that all available resources can be dispatched to the grid.
The fast-moving Bootleg Fire tripped off transmission lines on Friday and again Saturday, limiting electricity flow from the Pacific Northwest to California and other states. Power supplies to the California ISO service territory, which covers about 80 percent of the state, have been reduced by as much as 3,500 megawatts because of the fire.
Yesterday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to quickly secure additional power that has helped maintain grid stability through the weekend. The executive order remains in place.
When a Flex Alert is in effect, consumers are strongly encouraged to take these specific actions from 4-9 pm:
- Set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, if your health permits
- Avoid using major appliances, like dish washers and clothes washers and dryers
- Turn off all unnecessary lights
Earlier in the day, before the Flex Alert takes effect and when solar energy is abundant, consumers are encouraged to take these steps to be comfortable and help grid operators balance electricity supply and demand:
- Pre-cool your home by lowering the thermostat
- If you need to use your major appliances, do it before the Flex Alert is in effect, when solar energy is plentiful
- Close window coverings to keep your home or apartment cool
- Charge electronic devices and electric vehicles so there’s no need to do it later, when solar generation is down
If demand still outstrip supply after a Flex Alert is in effect, the ISO could take the infrequent step of ordering California utilities to spread power outages of relatively short duration to effectively extend available electricity as much as possible.
As California’s ability to store solar and wind energy with batteries or other technology continues to improve, those crucial evening hours will be less of a challenge and similar emergencies rarer. But for now, collective action to conserve is our most effective way to keep the grid stable.