Power grid groans, blackouts roll through L.A. area as heat wave nears peak


Power outages linked to L.A.’s intense heat wave rolled across the city Tuesday. As temperatures approached dangerous highs, harried crews restored service to one area only to be sent to another blackout.

The scorching heat wave has pushed demand for electricity to an all-time high, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power dispatched extra crews to respond to damaged equipment that had left thousands of customers without service.

As of 10 a.m., there were 3,300 customers without power, most of them in Los Feliz and Hollywood.


On Monday, LADWP reported that customers broke a record set in 2010, when they used 6,177 megawatts. On Monday, that figure hit 6,196 megawatts.

The utility said it expected even greater demand from its 1.4 million customers as the stifling heat wave was set to peak on Tuesday.

“Under these extreme conditions, our system is holding up quite well, but we urge our customers to continue to conserve to reduce strain on the grid,” LADWP General Manager Marcie Edwards said in a statement.

Blackouts were reported in some of the area’s hardest hit by the five-day heat wave, including Sun Valley, Burbank and Sherman Oaks, where temperatures have hit as high as 105 degrees. Other areas that were affected Tuesday included Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, the Valley and West L.A.

Despite the unprecedented demand for power, LADWP said it had enough equipment to handle the various transformer burnouts and power line failures.

“We’re prepared for emergencies,” said spokeswoman Jane Galbraith.

Officials recommended customers set thermostats to 78 degrees or warmer between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., when it requires the most energy to cool a room, and not to use major appliances until evenings or early morning. Closing blinds and curtains to limit direct sunlight also helps.


Temperatures across Southern California have remained in the triple digits as a weak off-shore flow holds cooler sea breezes at bay.

Several more temperature records could fall, including one set in 1909 when downtown L.A. hit 103 degrees. Woodland Hills, meanwhile, is expected to match its 14-year-old record of 109 degrees, and Burbank could top out at 105 degrees, a record set in 1984.

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