California spared rolling blackouts, future outages remain possible

Millions of residents were spared of blackouts on Monday night. The operator of California’s electric grid said it didn't have to implement rolling outages because enough people conserved power.

Cal-ISO canceled the emergency warning just before 8 p.m. The concern was because it was a weekday that demand would be up and utilities would be ordered to shed their power load. It appears conservation and cooler temperatures helped.

“Your stress level is already up having to do stuff from home and to have this, it’s great, one more thing,” said Elizabeth Harrell of San Jose.

Harrell is a San Jose elementary school teacher and mother of two. Her family has candles out and their devices charged on Monday evening after receiving an alert from PG&E.

“I don't know if they are taking into consideration how many people are working online now and how many kids are going to school online now,” said Harrell. “I don’t think this would be a bigger issue if we weren’t all quarantined.”

PG&E customers received a warning that due to extreme heat and high demand, the state’s electric grid operator Cal-ISO may require power to be turned off from 3-10 p.m. each day from Monday until Thursday.

“The greater amount of megawatts short, the more customers statewide will be need to be taken out of power,” said PG&E Spokesman Jeff Smith.

PG&E, under the direction of Cal-ISO, estimated 3 million customers across the state could possibly lose power to ease pressure on the state’s energy grid.

“It means citizens made a tremendous effort to conserve as much energy as possible,” said Smith. “They were able to alleviate some of that pressure.”

Power is likely to be turned off in the evening hours as demand increases to cool homes during the hottest part of the day.

“Let me make this crystal clear, we failed to predict and plan these shortages that is simply unacceptable,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.

On Monday, California’s governor was critical of the service interruptions calling for an investigation into why the three energy agencies Cal-ISO, California Public Utilities Commission and California Energy Commission weren’t able to predict and mitigate the energy capacity.

“Right now, California,” said Newsom. “We are currently and urgently deploying resources across the spectrum and working to reduce energy use.”

The governor signed an emergency declaration allowing large customers to use backup energy sources during peak hours and large container ships at ports to reduce their use. Even with that, he said, the state may fall short.

“We are ordering a lot of fans, at least as much as we can and air conditioning,” said Ace Hardware Store Manager Alex Jimenez. “We are also ordering generators.”

The Ace Hardware store in San Jose’s Willow Glen is replenishing its products after selling out of fans and generators over the weekend.

Tuesday’s outlook may be better since it won't be as hot. However, conservation is still key for the next couple of days. If there are outages, they are expected to last one to two hours.