With temperatures forecast to be 10-20 degrees above normal in many areas over the next several days, electricity demand is expected to continue to spike. The state’s grid operator says the power grid has maintained reliability during the heat wave due to conservation efforts. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is grateful to its customers for doing their part.
Actions like turning off lights and raising the thermostat a degree or two make a big difference right now when extreme temperatures are pushing up energy demand across the West, primarily from air conditioning use.
The state’s grid operator, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), issued a Flex Alert to be in effect today (Saturday, Sept. 3) from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Here are easy ways for PG&E customers to reduce the strain on the power supply:
Today, before 4 p.m.:
- Pre-cool home or workspace. Lower the thermostat in the morning. As the temperature rises outside, raise the thermostat, and circulate the pre-cooled air with a fan.
- Use major appliances, including:
- Washer and dryer
- Oven and stove for pre-cooking and preparing meals
- Charge electric vehicles.
- Close shades: Sunlight passing through windows heats the home and makes the air conditioner work harder. Block this heat by keeping blinds or drapes closed on the sunny side of the home.
Today, during the Flex Alert from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.:
- Set thermostat at 78 degrees or higher, health permitting: Every degree above 78 represents an appropriately 2% savings on cooling costs.
- When it’s cooler outside, bring the cool air in: If the outside air is cool during the night or early morning, open windows and doors and use fans to cool your home.
- Avoid using major appliances.
- Turn off all unnecessary lights.
- Avoid charging electric vehicles.
New this summer, customers can be rewarded for saving energy when the state’s grid operator calls for conservation. PG&E’s Power Saver Rewards Program is a free, voluntary program financially rewarding participants for temporarily reducing electricity use when demand is high. By conserving energy during Power Saver Rewards events coinciding with Flex Alerts, customers earn $2 for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy saved. More than 1.5 million PG&E customers are enrolled.
Enrolled customers who reduce energy use between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. will receive a credit on their bill at the end of the season. There is no cost or penalty for not reducing energy. Visit powersaver.pge.comto easily enroll and learn more about the program.
Customers can also help reduce the amount of power on the grid during a Flex Alert by enrolling in PG&E’s SmartAC program, which cycles the air conditioner on and off every 15 minutes for up to six hours on event days. This year, new participants will receive $75 for existing thermostats or $120 off a new purchase of a thermostat with enrollment. Customers cannot be enrolled in both the SmartAC and Power Saver Rewards Programs.
Eligible customers with a Tesla Powerwall battery energy storage system can participate in the PG&E + Tesla virtual power plant. Through this collaboration, Tesla is participating in PG&E’s Emergency Load Reduction Program (ELRP) Demand Response pilot by enrolling and combining residential Powerwall home battery systems into a virtual power plant to discharge power back to the grid during times of high demand. Participating customers will receive compensation for the energy their Powerwalls discharge.
Also, extreme hot weather can overload electric equipment causing heat-related power outages. PG&E has a plan and encourages customers to prepare as well. Have a flashlight, radios, and fresh batteries ready.
PG&E does not project a need for a Public Safety Power Shutoff due to this weather, but the company’s meteorology team continues to monitor conditions.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.