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California issues ‘Flex Alert,’ urges energy conservation

The California Independent System Operator in Folsom on Thursday, December 6, 2012. Cal ISO issued a “Flex Alert” for Tuesday afternoon.
The California Independent System Operator in Folsom on Thursday, December 6, 2012. Cal ISO issued a “Flex Alert” for Tuesday afternoon. rbenton@sacbee.com

With temperatures soaring, managers of California’s electricity grid urged residents Tuesday to conserve energy from 2 to 9 p.m.

The California Independent System Operator, which runs the state’s transmission grid from Folsom, issued a so-called “Flex Alert” calling for conservation. The alert was also expected to to be in effect Wednesday from 2 to 9 p.m., the ISO said.

ISO officials said demand for electricity was expected to peak at 44,700 megawatts at around 6 p.m. That’s the highest energy demand California has seen since last Sept. 15. But it’s still expected to come in well below the projected level of available power supply.

ISO spokesman Steven Greenlee said Tuesday’s alert is the agency’s first heat-related warning since early July 2013, when the grid manager issued alerts on back-to-back days for Northern California.

Even with temperatures expected to surge well past 100 degrees, energy consumption isn’t projected to set a record. The all-time peak demand recorded since the ISO was founded in 1998 was 50,270 megawatts the afternoon of July 24, 2006.

Flex alerts are the least serious of the ISO’s warnings when supplies get low. At the most serious point, the grid operator can begin interrupting power to selected commercial and industrial customers to prevent a serious meltdown of the system.

Dale Kasler: 916-321-1066, @dakasler

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