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Power outages in San Diego expected to continue

power lines
Rotating power outages may return to the San Diego Gas & Electric service territory due to a heatwave.
(Getty Images)

San Diego Gas & Electric has warned customers that more power outages could return as California and the large areas of the West continue to swelter from a stubborn heatwave.

The hot weather has prompted millions of people to crank up their air conditioners, and the California Independent System Operator, which manages the grid for most of the state, is scrambling to find sources of power to meet the spike in demand.

In an effort to balance supply and demand, the system operator on Friday and Saturday ordered utilities across the Golden State to implement rotating power outages. SDG&E shut off power to about 58,700 customers Friday night for about an hour and 20 minutes.

With weather forecasters predicting no immediate letup in high temperatures, SDG&E officials say there’s a decent chance the outages will return.

“Conservation is really important at this stage,” said SDG&E spokeswoman Helen Gao. “Grid conditions are expected to be extremely challenging today and we need everybody’s help to conserve energy to help avoid rotating outages. “

A list of the service areas that could be impacted is posted on the utility’s website, sdgenews.com. People can find out whether they are affected by checking their circuit and block numbers on their bills or by logging into their account at sdge.com or the SDG&E app.

Communities in high fire-threat districts, which sometimes have their power shut off during times when the chance of a wildfire increases, will not have their lines de-energized should rotating outages return, SDG&E officials said. Critical facilities such as hospitals, police and fire stations will also be exempt.

CAISO officials on Sunday issued a statewide Flex Alert, a voluntary electricity conservation effort, asking Californians to especially reduce their usage from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. each day through Wednesday to help grid operators manage the system.

The 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. period is crucial because it coincides with the reduction of solar power onto the state’s grid. When the sun goes down, solar production is virtually eliminated and when demand increases during that period, it leaves the grid vulnerable. In addition, cloudy conditions in recent days have reduced solar output, exacerbating things.

— Rob Nikolewski is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune


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