California Flex Alert calls for consumers to reduce power use Wednesday

LIVERMORE, Calif. (KTVU) The California Independent System Operator or Cal ISO issued the Flex Alert hoping to avoid blackouts by asking people to conserve electricity during the peak demand time between 2 p.m. -9 p.m. Wednesday.

"They're trying to pull a lot more power through the transmission lines and sometimes we get to the point where we cnat get any more through those transmission lines," said Steven Greenlee, a spokesman for CAL ISO.

CAL ISO is the only independent grid operator in the Western United States, overseeing 26,000 miles of transmission lines. California's power grid has added 2,000 megawats of solar power in the past year, but the grid is aging and can get overloaded on extremely hot days when demand can peak at 44,000 megawatts in a day.

The Flex Alert asks consumers to avoid using major appliances, turn the air conditioner up to 78 degrees or higher, draw drapes, use fans, and avoid any unnecessary use of power.

"We used a little bit of AC in one room that cooled a whole bunch of rooms and we used a fan. And we kept the AC at 78," said Nancy Saltsman of Livermore.

Chance Tarver and Veronica Bayne brought their toddler and 8-week-old baby to Livermore's public fountains on First Street, trying to get out of their house, stay cool, and comply with the state's Flex Alert.

"It's been really rough with a 2-month-old and 2-year-old and trying to keep them from getting heat rash," said Tarver.

"Trying not to run the dishwasher, washing machine and dryer," said Bayne, who added that some stores and residents had no power at all.

"Target lost power, Walmart lost power today," said Bayne.

By evening, PG&E said about 12,000 customers lost electricity in the Bay Area Tuesday.

First responders said with the high temperatures continuing this week, people need to make sure they stay cool and drink enough water.

"We have had additional medical-related heat illnesses as well, whether that be people overexerting themselves at fitness, things like that," said Jared Jamison, Acting Captain of the Livermore Pleasanton Fire Department.

The fire captain says Livermore opened a cooling center at it's community building and Pleasanton also had a cooling centers, so residents would have a place to get some cold water and air conditioning.