California will have its first test of plans to keep the lights on this summer following the shutdown of the key Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility as temperatures in the Los Angeles area are forecast to hit triple digits this week.
With record-setting heat and air conditioning demand expected in Southern California, the state’s power grid operator issued a so-called “flex alert,” urging consumers to conserve energy to help prevent rotating power outages – which could occur regardless.
Electricity demand is expected to rise during the unseasonable heatwave on Monday and Tuesday, with forecast system-wide use expected to top 45,000 megawatts, said the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages electricity flow through the state. That compares with a peak demand of 47,358 MW last year and the all-time high of 50,270 MW set in July 2006.
That could put stress on the power grid, particularly with the shut-in of Aliso Canyon, following a massive leak at the underground storage facility in October. The facility, in the San Fernando Valley, is the second largest storage field in the western United States, according to federal data, and therefore crucial for power generation.
All customers, including homes, hospitals, oil refineries and airports are at risk of losing power at some point this summer because a majority of electric generating stations in California use gas as their primary fuel. In April, millions of electric customers in Southern California were warned they could suffer power outages on up to 14 days this summer due to the closure.
The ISO said it was working with gas and power utilities and state energy agencies to mitigate potential reliability issues related to the limited operations at Aliso Canyon.
“We are confident we have a strong plan in place to meet the operational challenges posed by the upcoming hot temperatures,” ISO CEO Steve Berberich said, adding that consumer conservation efforts would be key.