Sonora, CA — California’s grid operator has called a statewide Flex Alert for today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday), prompting Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to ask customers to conserve energy as triple-digit heat wave hits most of its service area.
The alert is for the hours of 5 p.m.to 9 p.m., the span when the California Independent System Operator (ISO) points to as when most people crank up their air conditioners or start using washing machines or other appliances. ISO forecasts customer demand for energy will surge to 48,179 megawatts (MW) today, which is close to the peak load of 50,270 MW set back on this day in 2006. The operator targets the increased demand, the lack of additional generation, tight gas supplies and high-fire risk in their plea to conserve energy.
While the utility declares it is prepared and based on forecasts doesn’t anticipate any issues meeting the increased demand for power, customers’ help would be appreciated. Company officials stress, “About 425,000 residential and business customers are enrolled in five PG&E Demand Response programs. Collectively, their ability to reduce consumption is at a level that would prevent the need to utilize a gas-fired power plant.”
PG&E provides this list of ways the public can help reduce demand on the power grid during peak power usage times and in turn reduce their monthly bill:
- Set your air conditioner thermostat to 78 degrees or higher when you’re at home, health permitting, and 85 degrees when you’re away.
- Setting your AC thermostat 5 degrees higher will save about 10 percent on cooling costs.
- If you turn your ceiling fan on when using the air conditioner, you can raise your thermostat about 4°F to save energy with no reduction in comfort.
- Shut windows and draw the shades to keep in pre-cooled air from the night and early morning.
- Have your central cooling duct system checked for leaks. Up to 20 percent of cooled air can be lost through leaky or poorly insulated ducts.
- Buy an ENERGY STAR® air conditioner if your air conditioner is ready to be replaced. It can reduce energy usage by up to 10 percent.
- Avoid using an electric oven on hot days. Instead, cook on the stove, use a microwave oven, or grill outside.