Californians Are Worried the Power Grid Won’t Hold Up During Historic Heat Wave

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Jul 09, 2024

Residents throughout California are worried that the state’s power grid will fail to hold up amid an ongoing historic heat wave that has caused triple-digit temperatures in various regions of the Golden State.

These concerns have become so loud that officials have had to come out and reassure Californians. However, worries still remain.

California’s Heat Wave

Much of California is currently going through yet another heat wave that has resulted in excessive heat warnings. Record-breaking temperatures have been seen in various parts of the state.

A view of a Palm Springs sign by palm trees.

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Palm Springs has recently broken a record after the heat wave brought temperatures of 124 degrees Fahrenheit to the region. Death Valley has also seen historic temperatures in just this past week alone.


Ongoing Heat

This latest heat wave has exacerbated the already hot temperatures seen this summer in California. It’s also seemingly made some of the wildfires in the state much worse.

A view of a forest on fire.

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This ongoing heat wave isn’t set to end this week, which means more triple-digit temperatures will likely be seen in different regions of the state.

Using Air Conditioners

As many Californians are trying their best to keep out of the heat, particularly because of those excessive heat warnings, residents throughout the state are using their air conditioners to a great degree.

A view of a fan.

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The use of air conditioners will likely increase throughout the week as people struggle to stay cool. However, this fact has also brought some concerns about California’s power grid.

Can the Power Grid Meet This Demand?

More people may be relying on the power grid this summer, thanks to these historic heat waves. This has caused some to question whether the power grid can actually meet this demand.

A view of power lines during sunset in California.

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These worries have gotten so loud that the California Independent System Operator (ISO), a nonprofit that oversees California’s power system in bulk, has released a statement reassuring residents in the state.

A Stable Grid

The ISO explained that California’s power grid is currently stable — and that there is enough energy to ensure the grid stays stable throughout this heat wave.

Many wind turbines seen on a hill in Palm Springs.

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“The grid is currently stable, and we are forecasting sufficient energy supply to cover demand through today,” the ISO stated. “We continue to monitor the high temperatures throughout California and the West, which are expected to persist through this week.”


Will California See Power Outages?

Some residents are also worried that they may have to suffer through rotating power outages, especially if the grid becomes overloaded and cannot bring power to all Californians.

A view of a California power grid during sunrise.

Source: Sterling Lanier/Unsplash

However, the ISO has claimed this will not happen. They said, “No rotating power outages are planned for the California ISO high-voltage electricity grid.”


Managing the Heat

While many valleys and deserts of California have seen these excessively hot days in the past few weeks, other areas of the state haven’t.

A view of the San Francisco skyline seen between two palm trees during sunset.

Source: Cedric Letsch/Unsplash

For example, Los Angeles and San Diego, which are densely populated, haven’t seen as many triple-digit temperature days as other regions of the state have.


Lowering Demand

Because these coastal areas have been slightly cooler than inland areas, there hasn’t been as much of a demand on the coast. This has helped the grid adapt to helping those who are in those extremely hot regions.

A view of a pier and palm trees near the ocean during sunset in California.

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A spokesperson for the California ISO said, “Temperatures in the coastal areas in both Northern and Southern California are not as unseasonably warm as the interior of the state, which is keeping electricity demand lower across the grid and helping maintain system reliability.”


A Peak in Demand

The California ISO has also explained that the peak in demand they’re forecasting is still lower than what their current capacity is, which can reassure Californians.

A view of a fan in front of a window.

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On Monday, the ISO anticipated that they’d see a peak of 44,111 megawatts. Meanwhile, the grid’s current capacity is 55,211 megawatts.


Meeting Demand Without Blackouts

Though the ISO has tried to reassure residents, many Californians still remain worried about whether the power grid will hold up this entire summer, especially as the state undergoes many difficult heat waves.

A candle seen amid a black background.

Source: Atikah Akhtar/Unsplash

However, the power grid managed to hold up well back in 2022 during a heat wave. During this time, there were many calls to conserve energy by using power blackouts — but the grid stayed strong even without these outages.


Power Outages Because of Fires

There have been some recent areas of the state that have seen their power shut off — but only because of rampaging wildfires or dusty and hot conditions.

A view of power lines seen in California.

Source: Diego Fernandez/Unsplash

PG&E has cut power during certain days this summer, as they’ve been worried that strong winds could damage their power cables and then accidentally start a fire.