CA Residents, Businesses Escape Rolling Blackouts For Second Straight Night

A view of power lines during a Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) public safety power shutoff on November 20, 2019 in Santa Rosa, California.
Photo credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
By KCBS All News 106.9FM and 740AM
The state's power grid controllers have lifted a State 2 Emergency declaration, meaning Californians conserved enough energy to avoid rolling blackouts for another day.

California's Independent System Operator lifted the emergency status just before 8 p.m. Tuesday.

We did it! Stage 2 Emergency declaration lifted. #ThanksCA!

— California ISO (@California_ISO) August 19, 2020

CAL ISO had forecasted even higher energy demand Tuesday by about 1,000 megawatts, but a prediction that demand would lead to heavier energy shortages between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. didn't hold, as pleas for customers to conserve energy were rewarded. 

"Californians made tonight a success," Cal ISO President and CEO Steve Berberich said in a news release Tuesday night. "Everyone pulled together and responded to our warning with action to avoid any interruption in electricity supplies."

Cal ISO has again issued a Flex Alert asking California residents to conserve energy from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the state is bringing on extra electricity from co-generation plants and an executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow backup generators to run. That is adding a few hundred megawatts on the supply side and there is extra energy coming from other states as well.

Cal ISO also lifted its statewide Stage 2 Emergency just before 8 p.m. Monday night, doing so because of "lower temperatures and conservation," according to a tweet.

As per procedure, PG&E remains on standby to initiate rolling blackouts if instructed by Cal ISO. The utility said rotating outages "typically lasts one to two hours."

The agency, however, which distributes power to PG&E and other utilities, later clarified the demand was not as high as expected.

CAL ISO then lowered its outage estimates to 1,500 megawatts, or 1.1 million homes to begin between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday.

The heat wave hitting the West Coast has strained the grid as residents try to cool their homes by blasting air conditioning. Cal ISO is also looking for commercial and industrial operators to come offline, but as solar energy comes off the system in the evenings when the sun goes down, Berberich said rolling blackouts will be almost a certainty.

"That’s where you’ll get the peak load reduction," Berberich added.

The announcement comes even after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday afternoon that he was signing an emergency declaration to free up energy capacity. The state had earlier issued a Flex Alert in effect each day through Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., asking residents to conserve power during those hours.