Hundreds of thousands of Californians were plunged into darkness on Friday evening as companies cut power to homes after the state’s Independent System Operator declared a Stage 3 energy emergency.
With temperatures soaring above 100 degrees in many parts of the state, and millions of residents stuck at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, experts feared the high demand for power would overwhelm the grid.
‘A Stage 3 Emergency is declared when demand outpaces available supply. Rotating power interruptions have been initiated to maintain stability of the electric grid,’ the Independent System Operator announced shortly before 6pm.
After that announcement, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. confirmed it would be cutting power to as many as 250,000 customers, while Southern California Edison also said they would be conducting rolling blackouts.
Residents were unable to be notified due to the emergency announcement, leaving thousands of vulnerable people suddenly without air-conditioning in the midst of a severe heatwave.
Grid managers last implemented such a power cut in 2001, when the state was suffering from an electric crisis.
It comes amid a horror week for the state, which is still struggling to contain COVID-19 infections. On Friday, the state surpassed 600,000 confirmed cases of the contagious virus – more than New York state.
There are also currently 13 wildfires raging across the state, with the hot weather causing catastrophic conditions for firefighters.
California’s nightmare looks likely to continue, and more enforced power shutoffs could be coming over the weekend as the state continues to sizzle.
The National Weather Service says that sweltering conditions are set to stay, with the heatwave set to rival the deadly seven-day heat event in 2006, during which L.A. saw its highest-ever temperature of 119 degrees.
Solar generators for the state will also be impacted as cloud cover from tropical storm Elida is expected to crimp output.
Hundreds of thousands of Californians were plunged into darkness during a heatwave on Friday evening as companies cut power to homes after the state’s Independent System Operator declared a Stage 3 energy emergency. The sun is seen setting in Asuza
The blackout was underway Friday as most of the state was issued Stage 3 emergency
California’s Independent System Operator worried that a high-demand for power would overwhelm the system. Their emergency announcement forced energy companies to shut off power to hundreds of thousands of homes
Cities and towns across the state were affected by the rolling shutoffs. Homes as far north as San Fransciso were plunged into darkness. Meanwhile, residents in San Diego – at the southernmost point of California – also had their power cut
After the Stage 3 Emergency was declared tens of thousands of homes and businesses in Northern California had their power supply shut off by PG&E.
Rolling blackouts occurred in Alameda, San Mateo, Marin and Sonoma counties.
The blackout was a blow for some restaurants already struggling financially amid the coronavirus crisis.
Restaurant owner Bill Higgins was affected, by the forced outages, telling KPIX: ‘We just did the best we could.’
‘We cooked whatever we could for as long as we could without the electricity. It started to get dark and we had to shut it down … Restaurants are already under the gun and this was hurtful, to say the least.’
The outages also crippled Southern California.
According to various reports, around 13,000 homes in Bakersfield, north of L.A., had their power cut off after 6pm.
Meanwhile, Southern California Edison also announced they had cut power to homes in Anaheim, close to Los Angeles, but promised the outages would be no longer than 15 minutes.
In the San Diego and southern Orange counties areas, Sempra Energy’s San Diego Gas & Electric utility said one-hour rotating shutoffs will be ‘widespread’ across its territory.
There are also currently 13 wildfires raging across the state, with the hot weather causing catastrophic conditions for firefighters. Pictured: a brush fire in the Lake Hughes area of the Angeles National Forest
Firefighters works to douse flames from the Lake Fire in the Angeles National Forest on Friday
Before the enforced power shutoffs, residents enjoyed the heatwave at Dog Beach in Ocean Beach on Friday
Surfers in San Deigo were seen ready to hit the water amid soaring temperatures on Friday. Some residents of the city had their power cut later in the evening
By 9pm, the Stage 3 emergency was lifted, and power began to be restored to most homes.
Cutting off power to vulnerable residents in the midst of sizzling temperatures can be incredibly dangerous.
On Friday, San Joaquin Valley was forecast to have blazing temperatures of 112 degrees Fahrenheit. Los Angeles was expected to reach 96 degrees.
California ISO spokesperson Anne Gonzales says ‘extreme heat’ was behind the operator’s decision to declare a Stage 3 emergency. Temperatures were up to 20 degrees higher than average.
She would not rule out more enforced shutoffs in the coming week.
California utility companies are rolling out a massive blackout across the state that could impact some 250,000 homes and businesses as excessive heat warnings are issued across most of the region
While San Diego saw clear skies, some areas of California were experiencing high clouds from tropical storm Elida causing there to be a crimp output in their solar panels
The National Weather Service forecast an extensive heat wave starting this weekend and lasting until late next week