Customers urged to save power, avoid rolling blackouts
Officials from California's grid operator and Southern California Edison will roll out an energy conservation campaign Wednesday, asking customers to save power over the summer in light of the outage at San Onofre nuclear plant and the region's tight energy supply.
California Independent System Operator, the nonprofit that oversees most of California's energy grid, will monitor conditions over the summer and issue alerts when outages are possible. Customers may be asked to cut back their energy use. Heat waves, fires and outages at power plants or transmission lines can strain the system.
The ISO will issue "Flex Alerts" to ask consumers to turn off unnecessary lights and appliances, adjust their air conditioning to 78 degrees or higher or use a fan, and postpone use of major appliances until after 6 p.m.
San Onofre, which powers about 1.4 million homes in Southern California, has been offline since Jan. 31 because of issues with its newly installed steam generators and is expected to remain out of service at least through the summer. Officials have said that with contingency measures -- including conservation programs -- in place, the region should be able to make it through the summer without rolling blackouts unless an extreme heat wave or other unexpected strain on the system occurs.
Tom Dunklee, a contract meteorologist for the ISO, said during the second half of the summer, conditions in Southern California are expected to be "considerably warmer than average," although not record setting, with temperatures about 1.5 to 2.5 degrees above average in coastal areas.
The heat will be at about a one-in-five-year level, Dunklee said. Officials said the contingency measures in place should equip Southern California to get through a one-in-10-year heat wave without San Onofre.
The ISO will post current grid conditions on its website.
-- Abby Sewell
Photo: San Onofre nuclear power plant has been offline since Jan. 31 and is contributing to a tight energy supply. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times