BAY AREA (CBS SF) — Amid a forecast for poor air quality in parts of the Bay Area and a statewide call for power conservation during a predicted heat wave, some cities are working to find ways to keep vulnerable residents safe.
California’s Independent System Operator, which manages he state’s power grid, asked residents to take measures such as limiting their use of major appliances and setting air conditioner thermostats to 78 in order to conserve energy from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
“The main thing that’s going on this evening, and particularly tomorrow and Sunday, is that the ISO is trying to buy power from other parts of the western grid,” explained UC Berkeley energy economist Severin Borenstein. “And those other parts also have their own heat problems to worry about. So they generally, at this point, aren’t willing to sell until the last minute, because they need to know whether they’re going to need it for their own customers.”
Desperate to buy, because California finds itself with a very specific, and now recurring power shortage.
“We are facing a changed grid from 10 years ago,” Borenstein said. “We have a lot more solar on the grid.”
This energy crunch already has California sacrificing some of its climate goals for some medium term answers. Despite longtime plans to close four gas power plants on the southern California coast, they will now stay open for three years.
“They were going to operate for the rest of this fall anyway,” said Borenstein. “But yes, keeping the gas power plants running a little bit longer is definitely going to be a part of the solution.”
And while the solar loading problem is something Cal-ISO has warned about for years, this weekend will be another nail biter, hour by hour.
“We haven’t been building up the capacity to whether these problems, particularly to recognize that the rest of the west has been getting tighter and has been less willing, over the last few years, to sell us power,” said Borenstein.
Updates on the flex alert over the weekend can be found at flexalert.org.
As firefighters approach full containment on the lightning-caused fires burning for more than two weeks in Northern California, they are also bracing for possible flare-ups because of the approaching heat wave.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued a Spare the Air Alert for Friday and Saturday, which makes it illegal to burn wood or wood products. And it says the Santa Clara Valley and parts of the North Bay could have unhealthy air through Monday. More information is available at the Spare the Air website.
- Bay Area Air Quality Management District
- BAAQMD Current Air Quality
- EPA AirNow
- Purple Air – Tracks particulate matter, sensors may register higher numbers than the air actual air quality.
Residents in certain parts of the Bay Area will have a harder time cooling off with the closure of many beaches along the San Mateo and Santa Cruz coasts.
The Pt. Reyes National Seashore will be closed due to the ongoing Woodward Fire. Visitors are asked to stay away from the entire area, though some parts may be open to visitors.
While many East Bay Regional Parks will be open, the district warned in a statement Thursday that air quality is likely to be poor. Some typical Labor Day activities, including picnicking, barbecuing, boating and swimming, will not be permitted.
Mass transit agencies, including CalTrain and BART, will follow a Sunday schedule on Monday. More information is available at the Caltrain website . BART, which now closes at 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, also will follow its Sunday schedule on Labor Day. More information is posted at the BART website.
Cities across the Bay Area plan to open cooling centers for residents to find daytime respite from the weekend’s most intense heat. All plan to enforce COVID-19 prevention measures, including requirements to wear face coverings. Some will allow food, others no. Most will not allow pets.
The most accurate information will be available on various city and county
websites. Information for some selected areas is provided below.
In Santa Clara County, cooling centers will be open in Cupertino, San Jose, Morgan Hill and Mountain View on Saturday through Monday, or on just Sunday and Monday, depending on the center. More information is posted
at the Santa Clara County website.
In Concord, where temperatures are expected to top 100 from Saturday through Tuesday and could hit 109 on Sunday, a cooling center will be open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday through Monday at the Concord
Senior Center, 2727 Parkside Circle. Residents should bring a snack and
In Santa Rosa, residents can cool off from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday and Monday at the Steele Lane Community Center, 415 Steele Lane. Food and pets will not be permitted.
Wilson Walker contributed to this story.
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