Mid-August heatwave hits the Bay Area, power grid operator issues Flex Alert for Friday

Today, as the multi-day heat wave settles in, PG&E briefed the California Public Utilities Commission on the utility's readiness for possible upcoming Public Safety Power Shutoff vents.

Here's the outlook for more of these PSPS events that PG&E has repeatedly said will be smaller, shorter and smarter.

Beyond a major system failure, there are two  major things that threaten power supplies: a PSPS  shutoff or not enough power supply to meet demand during extreme hot spells.

Even though the many conditions that would cause a Public Safety Power Shutoff, a PSPS, are not currently predicted for the coming heat wave, August, September and November represent California's prime fire months. Example, though the National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat watch for the weekend and beyond, it has not declared a Red Flag Warning; essential for a PSPS.

RELATED: Excessive heat wave expected in Bay Area through early next week

"It has already been a busy year for us, and the outlook for the rest of the year continues to show heightened risk above normal fore potential for Southern California as well as parts of Northern California; dry conditions, wind events," said Cal Fire Chief Daniel Berlant. Assistant Deputy Director.

Nonetheless, the California Public Utilities expects PSPS events sometime and asked PG&E's executive who oversees its vast electrical system, Senior Vice-President Michael Lewis, about it "This year, our goal is to make the events shorter by restoring power to all our customers within 12 daylight hours after the severe weather has passed which is a significant improvement over or 24 hour goal of last year," Mr. Lewis.

The CPUC and especially Cal Fire take that with a grain of salt. "Our focus continues to be the vegetation management efforts of the utilities, including PG&E becoming, assuring that they are in compliance with those requirements because, if compliance is met, the need for PSPS events is reduced if not completely eliminated," said Chief Berlant.

RELATED: Spare the Air alert issued for Friday

Post-PSPS restorations will be supplemented by for  contractors and mutual aid from other neighboring California and other state utilities. PG&E says it will comply and place special emphasis on protecting hospitals, food banks, medical lifeline patients and Covid testing sites. "It's our intent to not only meet your expectation, but exceed them this year," said Lewis.

As to the other shutoff possibility, not enough power to go around, CAL ISO, the state power grid operators have called a Flex Alert, asking people to refrain from excessive air conditioning and power use, it has adequate supplies to avoid service interruptions. 

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