Cal ISO's recorded and projected energy demands indicate peak usage in the late afternoon across California today.

Bright sunny skies across Southern California are prompting a statewide, two-day Flex Alert — or call for voluntary conservation of electricity — including an announcement in Santa Barbara’s Nordstrom department store to its customers that it would be reducing energy from 2 to 6 p.m. Primarily, the store would be dimming its lights, a customer service representative said, in response to a request by SoCal Edison, and potentially moving to generator power for its air conditioning. The Cal ISO’s Flex Alert lasts until 9 p.m., however, and Californians are asked to limit the use of major appliances, turn off unnecessary lights, and set air conditioners to 78 degrees or above between 2 and 9 p.m., when electricity use tends to spike.

From Los Angeles to San Jose, temps are in the 90s today, with thermostats registering well into the 100s further inland. Santa Barbara’s high so far is 77 degrees, Santa Ynez’s 96, and 106 in New Cuyama. The National Weather Service expects more of the same through Wednesday.

The least tolerant of extremes in temperature are the elderly, infants, and people with chronic illness, advises Santa Barbara County Public Health. Cooler places like malls, libraries, and theaters can be a refuge, as well as shade, fans, water, and lighter meals.

For fans of power usage data, the ISO indicates that solar output peaked at noon, with 9,600 megawatts in production. Wind generated about 2,800 megawatts at its peak around 1 a.m. By late afternoon, renewables were providing about 24 percent of the energy demand.

[UPDATE: June 20, 2017]

Interestingly, after the ISO made its request for energy savings on June 19 around 2 p.m., California complied. The chart below shows the expected energy use in purple dotted lines, and the actual usage is the solid blue line. The reduction in anticipated demand enabled the ISO to avoid brownouts.


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