Californians battling a heatwave amid a global pandemic are now dealing with possible state-mandated power outages.
For the first time in nearly two decades, state energy regulators are imposing rolling blackouts to reduce strain on the power grid and now Governor Gavin Newsom is demanding an investigation into those blackouts.
On Friday and Saturday, tens of thousands of California residents lost power to avoid energy overload due to extreme heat and high demand, but somehow San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties weren't impacted.
This week, PG&E officials say it’s possible the Central Coast is next.
PG&E customers received messages Monday warning them of more possible outages.
In an effort to prevent or limit power outages during this heat wave, the California #ISO issued a statewide #FlexAlert for today - Wednesday, Aug. 19, from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Learn more: https://t.co/U5yYGRfQjT pic.twitter.com/mJCmqLPHnq— California ISO (@California_ISO) August 17, 2020
“The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) tells us how much of the load to reduce and then we look for places in our service territories where we can find that load and then pull the switch,” said Mark Mesesan, a spokesman for PG&E.
Businesses like Beachwalker Inn & Suites in Pismo Beach say it's difficult trying to prepare for a possible blackout.
“[Utility companies] are not specific about the outage timing, so for us, we can't make preparations or we can't tell guests at check-in you know, 'Today will be the power outage, sorry for the inconvenience,'" said Himanshu Panchal, owner of Beachwalker Inn.
According to CAISO, outages could last one to two hours between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. through Wednesday.
A PG&E spokesman said the utility company tries to switch up which areas have power shut off.
“If we have a group of customers that have been impacted by a CAISO-directed outage one day, we will look for another block of customers during another day," Mesesan said.
On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom sent a letter to state energy regulators demanding an investigation into power disruptions saying in part, "This cannot stand. California residents and businesses deserve better from their government."
The CAISO Board of Governors met virtually Monday to discuss the state’s electrical capacity heading into the week.
Customers urged to conserve electricity as heat wave continues. https://t.co/rhwPPHd64B pic.twitter.com/dOPsyoSy3Y— PG&E (@PGE4Me) August 17, 2020
During the meeting, panelists addressed the need to inform residents of outages sooner, saying millions of people could be impacted by rolling blackouts in the coming days.
These types of outages are different from a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) when power is shut off due to elevated fire conditions.
Click here for a list of outages in your area.