California’s power grid operator, the California Independent System Operator (ISO), announced that it would not request consumers to conserve power on Friday after declaring a late Thursday energy emergency. The scorching heat wave led to increased air conditioner usage in homes and businesses across the state.

The ISO, responsible for managing the grid serving approximately 32 million consumers, around 80% of the state’s power load, reassured the public that it possessed sufficient resources to meet the escalating demand.

The energy emergency alert was triggered for a brief period on Thursday evening, approximately at 7:30 p.m. local time, owing to the combination of intense heat conditions and unexpectedly high electricity consumption as solar power availability diminished with the setting sun.

Following a severe heat wave in August 2020, which resulted in rotating blackouts for around 800,000 households and businesses, concerns about extreme weather’s impact on the power grid have been prevalent among California residents.

Meteorologists at AccuWeather forecasted that Los Angeles, California’s largest city, would experience daily temperatures in the low 90s Fahrenheit (32.8 Celsius) from July 21-25, deviating from the typical high of 82 F for this time of the year.

The ISO managed to resolve the emergency by procuring additional resources, without specifying their origin. However, the ISO’s website indicated that imports from neighboring states had increased during that period.

Looking ahead, the ISO projected a rise in demand from 42,266 megawatts (MW) on Thursday to 43,512 MW on Friday, remaining significantly below the grid’s all-time high of 52,061 MW on Sept. 6, 2022.

The surging demand in California had a notable impact on next-day power and natural gas prices in the U.S. West, with prices at the Mid Columbia Hub in the Pacific Northwest, a primary source of California’s electric imports, reaching a three-month peak.

Given the significant reliance on gas-fired plants for power generation in the state, the increased demand for electricity led to a rise in gas consumption.

In 2022, gas-fired plants contributed approximately 49% of the power generated in the ISO, with the majority of the remainder coming from solar (21%), nuclear (10%), wind (10%), and hydro (9%).


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