(CALMATTERS) – Californians’ energy conservation efforts and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s emergency proclamation freeing up additional supplies helped the state avoid a Wednesday shortfall that could have resulted in rolling blackouts as an extreme heat wave strained the electric grid, California’s Independent System Operator said Thursday.
But today marks the third straight day of statewide Flex Alerts asking Californians to voluntarily conserve energy from 4 to 9 p.m. And, with temperatures expected to remain 10 to 20 degrees above normal into early next week and more calls for energy conservation expected through Labor Day — in addition to other possible “emergency actions”— the threat is far from over.
Exacerbating the grid’s fragility: raging Southern California wildfiresthat knocked out transmission lines on Wednesday, resulting in a temporary loss of about 700 megawatts. And more blazes could be on the way: The U.S. Forest Service warned residents Thursday to take precautions during Labor Day weekend — when California’s national forests see the highest number of visitors — by being aware of fire restrictions and being careful with campfires.
- How did California’s wildfires become so unpredictable and extreme? And why do they now pose a risk almost the whole year round? CalMatters’ Julie Cart answers those questions and more in this comprehensive, newly updated explainer.