LOS ANGELES (CBS SF/AP) — California residents were asked to voluntarily conserve power again on Friday as the heat wave that is baking the U.S. West strained the state’s energy grid and raised the possibility of rotating outages.
On Thursday, Bay Area residents largely avoided outages from the strained power grid after Pacific Gas and Electric warned customers to anticipate possible outages. There were scattered, small outages around the Bay Area which KPIX confirmed were heat-related but no widespread outages.READ MORE: 16-Year-Old Girl Dead, Woman Wounded in Friday-Evening Shooting in San Francisco
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As temperatures spiked on Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an emergency proclamation that suspended certain permitting requirements — allowing power plants to ramp up operations if necessary to meet the demand for electricity. The proclamation cited the “extreme heat peril” facing the state this week.
The California Independent System Operator, which runs the state’s energy grid, issued a Flex Alert for 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday.
During those hours, people were urged to set their thermostats to 78 degrees (25.5 degrees Celsius) or higher and to avoid using washers, dishwashers and other major appliances. An alert was also in place Thursday evening.
During an intense Western heat wave last August, the state had two days of rotating outages that affected more than 200,000 people. They were the first such blackouts since 2001.READ MORE: Belmont Police Search for Missing Woman and Her 3-Year-Old Son
Power officials said the electrical grid has had upgrades in power storage and transmission since then, including adding about 3,500 megawatts of capacity — enough to power some 2.6 million homes. That includes 2,000 megawatts worth of battery storage that could be crucial when solar power generation tails off after dark.
Interior areas of the state broiled Thursday. Triple-digit high temperatures were recorded in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys and the deserts. Death Valley reached 128 degrees (53.3 Celsius) and Palm Springs tied the all-time record of 123 degrees (50.5 Celsius).
The temperatures were much cooler in the state’s coastal areas.
The heat wave was expected to continue into the weekend, with the worst conditions affecting California’s interior regions. In the Bay Area, inland areas will remain hot on Saturday, with highs well into the 90s.
Along with heat, air pollution will remain a concern in the Bay Area heading into the weekend. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has extended a Spare the Air alert at least through Saturday. Air quality officials said tailpipe exhaust from vehicles remains the largest source of smog in the Bay Area.
“As we prepare for a third consecutive Spare the Air Alert, the most important thing we can all do to reduce air pollution is to limit our driving,” said Air District executive officer Jack Broadbent said in a statement. “Bay Area residents can do their part to help protect air quality by taking transit, working remotely, walking or biking every day.”
Blamed on a dome of high pressure that has covered the U.S. West., the heat wave came amid a drought that has dried up vegetation and increased fire danger. There have been a number of small wildfires around California this week but the state has avoided the fierce gusts that drove last year’s devastating blazes.MORE NEWS: Grass Fire That Burned 15 Acres on Altamont Pass Slows Traffic for Hours
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