California Urges Avoiding Charging Electric Cars to Ward Off Blackouts in Heatwave Because State Loses Solar Power When the Sun Goes Down
Just days after passing a law banning new sales of gasoline powered cars by 2035, California is urging residents to avoid charging their electric vehicles during peak hours in the coming week to help ward off blackouts during an expected heatwave.
File screen image of Kamala Harris charging an electric vehicle.
“During a Flex Alert, consumers are urged to reduce energy use from 4-9 p.m. when the system is most stressed because demand for electricity remains high and there is less solar energy available. The top three conservation actions are to set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, avoid using large appliances and charging electric vehicles, and turn off unnecessary lights.“
Excerpt from the San Diego Union-Tribune) on the warning:
The California Independent System Operator that manages the electric grid for about 80 percent of the Golden State warns the power system is expected to come under strain as homeowners and businesses crank up their air conditioning units. Weather forecasters expect temperatures to climb on Wednesday and intensify through the start of next week.
Peak load for electricity is currently projected to exceed 48,000 megawatts on Labor Day, the highest of the year, said the system operator, known as the California ISO for short, in a heat bulletin released late Tuesday. For perspective, 48,000 MW is about 14 percent higher than Tuesday’s peak.
…”If weather or grid conditions worsen,” the ISO bulletin said, the grid manager “may issue a series of emergency notifications to access additional resources and prepare market participants and the public for potential energy shortages and the need to conserve.”
That could well mean issuing a Flex Alert, a statewide request for customers to voluntarily reduce energy consumption from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Those are the hours when California’s grid is under the most pressure because production from solar decreases and eventually disappears in the evening hours — but the weather is still hot and energy demand remains high because people are still consuming electricity.
California’s electric vehicle mandate will be phased in, according to Cal Matters:
“Automakers will have to gradually electrify their fleet of new vehicles, beginning with 35% of 2026 models sold, increasing to 68% in 2030 and 100% for 2035 models. As of this year, about 16% of all new car sales in California are zero-emission vehicles, twice the share in 2020.”
Aug. 30, 2022
Excessive heat starting tomorrow will stress energy grid
Consumer conservation likely needed this weekend to avert power outages
FOLSOM, Calif. – Starting tomorrow through Tuesday, California and the West are expecting extreme heat that is likely to strain the grid with increased energy demands, especially over the holiday weekend.
Temperatures are forecast to begin rising Wednesday, August 31, intensifying through the holiday weekend and extending to early next week. In many areas of the West, temperatures are forecasted to hit triple digits and break records.
In what’s likely to be the most extensive heat wave in the West so far this year, temperatures in Northern California are expected to be 10-20 degrees warmer than normal through Tuesday, Sept. 6. In Southern California, temperatures are expected to be 10-18 degrees warmer than normal.
The ISO is taking measures to bring all available resources online. Restricted Maintenance Operations (RMO) have been issued for Wednesday, Aug. 31, through Tuesday, Sept. 6 from noon to 10 p.m. each day, due to high loads and temperatures across the state. During the RMO, market participants are ordered to avoid scheduled maintenance to ensure all available generation and transmission lines are in service.
The peak load for electricity is currently projected to exceed 48,000 megawatts (MW) on Monday, the highest of the year.
If weather or grid conditions worsen, the ISO may issue a series of emergency notifications to access additional resources and prepare market participants and the public for potential energy shortages and the need to conserve.
The power grid operator expects to call on Californians for voluntary energy conservation via Flex alerts over the long weekend.
During a Flex Alert, consumers are urged to reduce energy use from 4-9 p.m. when the system is most stressed because demand for electricity remains high and there is less solar energy available. The top three conservation actions are to set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, avoid using large appliances and charging electric vehicles, and turn off unnecessary lights. Lowering electricity use during that time will ease strain on the system, and prevent more drastic measures, including rotating power outages.
Learn more about conserving energy or sign up for text notifications at www.FlexAlert.org.
The ISO continues to closely monitor conditions and will provide updates as necessary. To stay current with forecasted supply and demand conditions, and monitor emergency notifications, visit the ISO’s Today’s Outlook, download the free ISO Today mobile app, follow us on Twitter at @California_ISO, and check the News webpage for updated System Conditions Bulletins.