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California faces another day of grid-straining extreme heat

The power grid in California is coming under tremendous strain as western US states experience a record-breaking heatwave.

September 8, 2022
By John Antczak
8 September 2022

Operators of California’s electricity grid acknowledged on Wednesday that a miscommunication led to a small number of power shutoffs during a period of great strain, even as the state faced another day of extreme heat that could prompt much larger rolling blackouts.

The miscommunication occurred on Tuesday afternoon between a Northern California utility and the California Independent System Operator as the grid was perilously close to running out of energy, said Elliot Mainzer, president and CEO of the CAISO.

Mainzer said he did not know specifically how the miscommunication occurred but he stressed the grid operator did not order rotating blackouts.

Freddie Ramirez, left, is handed a bottle of water in the California city of Sacramento, where temperatures reached record highs on Tuesday. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo)

Mainzer said he did not know how many customers were affected when the errant power shutoffs occurred.

On Tuesday afternoon, California Governor Gavin Newsom triggered a wireless emergency alert system that sent messages to people’s cellphones urging them to turn off or reduce non-essential power.

“Within moments we saw a significant amount of load reduction,” Mainzer said, adding that it took the state back from “the edge.”

The grid will need the same kind of response from consumers on Wednesday, only earlier, he said.

California is stretching stretched into its second week of excessive heat. (Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo)

Western states in the US are struggling through one of the hottest and longest September heat waves on record.

Temperatures began soaring last week and the National Weather Service warned that dangerous heat could continue through Friday, despite some slight moderation.

California’s state capital of Sacramento hit an all-time high on Tuesday of 116 degrees (46.7 C), breaking a 97-year-old record.

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