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Southern California heat wave could put pressure on electrical grid

September 27, 2010 |  8:42 am


Californians are being asked to avoid using energy-hogging appliances between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Monday as temperatures in the triple digits are expected to put pressure on the state's electrical grid.

In addition, the National Weather Service issued red flag alerts for Monday and Tuesday in Los Angeles and Ventura counties as tinder-dry hills combined with gusty winds to increase the risk of wildfires.

On the energy front, California consumers are expected to use more than 45,000 megawatts by peak afternoon hours, said Gregg Fishman, a spokesman for Cal-ISO, which coordinates power for 85% of the state's grid. 

Though the expected energy consumption is high for this time of year, increased usage is not expected to cause any serious problems, Fishman said. Still, Cal-ISO is recommending residents avoid using heavy appliances in the afternoon.

And don't forget to turn off the lights when you leave a room, Fishman said.

"Given the situation as we know it right now, we should be fine,'' he said. "But grid conditions are dynamic, and things can change."

A high-pressure system dominating Southern California is producing gusty northeast winds of 15 to 25 mph in the canyons above Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Monday afternoon temperatures will reach between 100 and 110 degrees across inland areas and humidity will be in the single digits, weather officials said.

High fire danger will remain through Wednesday, when cooler marine air will begin to move back in, forecasters said.

Fire spotters across the Southland will be on the lookout for potential arsonists, officials said.

-- Catherine Saillant

Photo: Oscar Flores of Hollywood speed-walks around the Griffith Park Observatory on Monday morning. The high temperatures are not an issue for Flores, who said, "I'm from Guatemala; the heat doesn't bother me." Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times