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California power grid manager urges residents to conserve energy amid intense heat wave

A jogger runs in extreme heat under high-tension electrical lines in North Hollywood
A jogger runs under electrical lines in North Hollywood during Saturday’s high heat.
(Richard Vogel / Associated Press)

The manager of California’s power grid is urging residents to voluntarily conserve energy through Wednesday as the state continues to ride out a record-breaking heat wave.

The California Independent System Operator also warned of more power outages in its statewide flex alert issued Sunday.

The heat wave “is causing a strain on supplies, and consumers should be prepared for likely rolling outages during the late afternoons and early evenings through Wednesday,” the ISO said in its alert, adding that there is not enough energy to meet the high amounts of electricity people are using in order to cool themselves down.

Residents are asked to lower energy use from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., when temperatures remain high but the sun is weaker.

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The ISO recommends setting air conditioning thermostats to 78 degrees, turning off unnecessary lights, unplugging electrical devices not in use, closing blinds and drapes, and using fans, when possible.

The California Independent System Operator, the body that runs the electric grid for most of California, declared a statewide Stage 3 emergency Friday evening and ordered utilities to shed about 1,000 megawatts, prompting rolling blackouts across the state. A single megawatt powers about 750 homes, spokeswoman Anne Gonzales said.

It was the first time since 2001 that state electric grid operators have had to implement such a drastic step.

Forecasters warned that the heat wave, which is expected to last through at least Thursday, could rival the deadly seven-day heat event of July 2006.

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Multiple daily heat records were set Saturday. The National Weather Service reported a high of 112 in Woodland Hills, breaking the record of 108 set in 1977, and a high of 92 at UCLA, breaking the record of 90 set in 2003. Downtown Los Angeles hit 98 degrees, tying a record set in 1994.

The excessive heat is the result of a large, strong high-pressure system centered over Arizona, which is keeping the Southwestern U.S. hot almost everywhere except within a few miles of the coast.

The heat has heightened fire conditions in the West.

The Lake fire in the Angeles National Forest, above Lake Hughes, had grown to 18,361 acres and was 12% contained as of Sunday evening. At least 12 homes and commercial buildings had been destroyed. The Ranch 2 fire north of Azusa had burned at least 2,256 acres.

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The Loyalton fire, which started Friday evening in the Tahoe National Forest near California’s border with Nevada, grew to 20,000 acres with zero containment as of Sunday morning.

Times staff writers Alex Wigglesworth and Paul Duginski contributed to this report.


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