PG&E warns of possible outages tonight, urging customers to conserve energy

Potential outages are expected to last about two hours

As the state of California enters its sixth day of a record heatwave, Pacific Gas and Electric Compay (PG&E) is encouraging its customers to conserve electricity as current energy supply forecasts indicate the potential for rotating power outages Wednesday.

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The warning comes following a statewide Flex Alert issued by the California Independent System Operator’s (ISO) for Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. The extreme heat is currently forecast to last through at least Thursday, which is driving electricity demand higher.

"Following Flex Alerts on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Californians stepped up to respond in tremendous numbers to calls for energy conservation," PG&E said in a statement. "Thanks in large part to those conservation efforts, the CAISO did not have to call on PG&E and other utilities to conduct rotating outages on any of those days. Continued conservation is the best way for customers to reduce overall demand and help prevent stress on the electric supply that could lead to power outages."

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According to PG&E, rotating outages, which are declared by CAISO, are necessary when the organization is "unable to meet minimum contingency reserve requirements and load interruption is imminent or in progress."

"During these emergencies, the CAISO will typically order the state's utilities, including PG&E, to reduce electric load by turning off service immediately to prevent larger outages on the grid," PG&E added. "Due to the emergency nature of these outages, utilities may not be able to give advance warning to customers."

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In order to conserve energy, PG&E recommends that customers raise the thermostat to 78 degrees when at home and 85 degrees when out, use a ceiling fan to raise the air conditioning about 4 degrees, covering windows, avoiding the use of ovens, limiting the operation of refrigerators, and using washing machines and dishwashers earlier in the day or late at night after 10 p.m.

The utility company also recommends checking the weather forecast to prepare for hot days, keeping a list of emergency phone numbers, checking in on the most vulnerable populations like the elderly, staying hydrated, taking a cold shower or bath, wearing lightweight, loose, light-colored clothing, and staying out of direct sunlight and avoiding alcoholic or caffeinated beverages.

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If rotating outages are put into place, customers can look up their address to determine if their household will be affected at www.pge.com/rotatingoutages. The potential outages are expected to last about two hours.

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