For the first time since 2012, a "flex" alert urging consumers to voluntarily cut their energy use has been issued in Southern California.
The California Independent System Operator, which manages the state's energy grid, said Tuesday that energy demand was expected to be high and that consumers should reduce their usage between the hours of 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The last time a "flex" alert was called in California was in July 2013, but that was for Northern California only. The last alert in Southern California was in 2012, according to Steven Greenlee, a spokesperson for Cal-ISO.
Peak demand for the state was expected to be 44,700 megawatts at 6 p.m., according to Cal-ISO.
Much of that late-afternoon spike in energy use is driven by air conditioners as people seek relief from the heat — and heat there will be. Southern California residents were expecting a scorcher on Tuesday, with temperatures in Van Nuys and the San Fernando Valley forecast to hit 98 degrees and in the Antelope Valley to top 100 degrees.
Higher humidity will also make things feel even hotter.
Cal-ISO recommended the following conservation tips to stay cool and still reduce energy use:
- Set thermostat at 78 or higher and turn off, if away
- Cool with fans & draw drapes
- Turn off unnecessary lights and appliances
- Use major appliances in early morning or late evening
SoCal Edison has similar tips.
Greenlee said that while consumers should do what they can to help conserve energy, their health and safety should still come first.
Temperatures were expected to remain high all week, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, according to Stewart Seto of the National Weather Service.
"These temperatures will see a gradual cooling trend so by probably more like Friday we'll see temperatures go back down to just below 90 degrees," Seto said.
Despite the continuing high temperatures, Greenlee said it was hard to predict demand much further out than a day in advance.
"Sometimes we can see maybe 48 hours in advance, but not very often, because electricity is generated and consumed immediately upon generation, and so we really do live by hour to hour, and every five minutes," he said.
This story has been updated.