Heat wave knocks out power to thousands in Southern California

Plumes of smoke from brush fires burning above Duarte and Azusa frame the downtown Los Angeles skyline.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Thousands of Southern California residents were left without power Tuesday as a brutal heat wave continued to bake the region, utility company officials said.

Some 5,500 customers — including residences and businesses — scattered across Los Angeles were affected as of 2 p.m. Most would probably have power restored by the evening, Department of Water and Power officials said.

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Though the cause of the outages are being investigated, the heat wave that has sent temperatures skyrocketing into the triple digits and put record demand on the power grid — including because of increased use of air conditioners — was certainly a factor, said DWP spokeswoman Vonda Paige.

Some 1,900 customers in Hancock Park and 800 customers in Reseda were without power.

Southern California Edison was also experiencing widespread outages Tuesday. More than 5,300 customers were without power as of 1 p.m., said company spokeswoman Caroline Aoyagi. The outage included 900 customers in Bellflower and 400 in San Gabriel, she said.

Sweltering heat has strained the region’s electrical systems. Los Angeles DWP said in a statement that Monday’s peak demand, 6,080 megawatts, was more than 50% higher than energy demand on a usual June day.

It was also the highest demand on the grid in June since 2008, the agency said.

The utility has been preparing for the heat wave and continued demand on the grid throughout the summer by obtaining a variance from the South Coast Air Quality Management District to use diesel fuel up to 14 times.

Diesel produces more pollution in the atmosphere than natural gas, but natural gas is in limited supply because of a moratorium on storing additional gas in the wells at the Aliso Canyon facility following a leak earlier this year, DWP officials said.


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1:42 p.m.: This article was updated with outage numbers from Southern California Edison.