KEY POINTS

  • California's Power Grid operator renewed its appeal to residents to conserve energy
  • Over 46 million Americans are under heat advisories
  • California's second reservoir may shut down if water levels continue to drop

As a powerful heatwave grips the Western U.S., California’s power grid operator has extended its appeal for energy conservation, through a second flex, alert for Friday between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to “reduce stress on the power grid due to extreme heat.”

Amid the high temperatures, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday signed an emergency proclamation to free up additional energy capacity.

The California Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages the flow of electricity along the high-voltage electric grid for 80% of the state, had issued a flex alert for reduced energy consumption Thursday evening from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., asking residents to turn off unused major appliances and lights and to set their thermostats to 78 degrees F or higher.

A flex alert is issued “when the electricity grid is under stress” due to persistent heat or anticipated shortage of energy supply.

Residents are advised to pre-cool their homes before a flex alert by setting air conditioning thermostats to 72 degrees F and close the blinds as well as drapes to keep the sun from heating up the home, according to Flexalert.org. Consumers are also asked to charge their devices prior to a flex alert.

While a flex alert is in place, consumers are advised to avoid using big appliances and unplug those that are unused and use fans (when possible) in the room.

As of 5.30 a.m. ET, the grid tracker showed the state's current power demand at 26.23 MW, against an available capacity of 45.1 MW; the peak deamnd forecast was 41.35 MW. See real-time grid conditions here.

The heat warnings come as sweltering heat continues to blast through the West, and combined with a severe drought, lead to triple-digit temperatures even before the start of summer is officially announced. Currently, over 46 million Americans are under heat advisories, with temperatures rising well above 100 degrees F in some places, CBS reported.

According to the report, the heat index in Palm Springs, California, was 113 degrees F Wednesday, but down from a record 120 degrees F on Tuesday.

Also, California’s second-largest reservoir that powers up to 800,000 homes, may be forced to cease operations as drought and record heat have resulted in the water supply at Lake Oroville to deplete rapidly, CNN reported. 

It said that if the water level in the reservoir continues to fall at the currently projected rate, there won't be enough water left to operate the Edward Hyatt Power Plant in two to three months."

"If lake levels fall below those elevations later this summer, DWR will, for the first time, cease generation at the Hyatt power plant due to lack of sufficient water to turn the plant's electrical generation turbines," Liza Whitmore, public information officer for the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), told CNN.

The mortality burden of climate-related catastrophes such as storms, flooding and heatwaves is overwhelmingly borne by developing countries The mortality burden of climate-related catastrophes such as storms, flooding and heatwaves is overwhelmingly borne by developing countries Photo: UNCDF / KAREL PRINSLOO