California heat wave: No rolling blackouts but thousands without power – USA TODAY

As a historic heat wave hits the West, shattering records and straining California’s electricity grid, thousands of people were left without power Wednesday.
Tuesday, the state narrowly avoided rolling blackouts as California officials and energy authorities urged residents to reduce electricity use as the grid struggled against record demand.
Still, residents across Northern California were in the dark Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, according to Pacific Gas & Electric. The incident was spurred due to a miscommunication and led to power being cut by mistake to customers in several cities. 
The state issued its eigth consecutive day with a “flex alert” Wednesday, requesting residents and businesses to conserve power between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. to prevent against any blackouts. 
PAST COVERAGE:Rolling blackouts called off amid ‘extraordinary heat event’ in California
The relentless heat continued Wednesday, reaching the upper 90s and triple digits with temperatures in the 110s possible for the “interior valleys of California,” according to the National Weather Service.
“These dangerously hot temperatures will likely break dozens of additional daily and possibly monthly records,” the weather service said.
California’s state capital of Sacramento hit an all-time high Tuesday of 116 degrees, breaking a 97-year-old record.
Miscommunication led utilities to mistakenly cut power to customers in several California cities during unprecedented demand on energy supplies, operators of the state’s electricity grid acknowledged Wednesday.
Confusion occurred Tuesday afternoon between several Northern California utilities and the California Independent System Operator as the grid was perilously close to running out of energy amid record-breaking temperatures, said Elliot Mainzer, president and CEO of Cal-ISO.
“That is certainly concerning to me,” Mainzer said, adding that he was looking into what happened and how many customers were affected. “There was a lot happening on the grid for everybody last night. And so we’ll we’ll double down on the communication to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
The heat is expected to relax by the end of the week, beginning to dissolve Thursday, the National Weather Service forecast.
After battering parts of Mexico with punishing rainfall and high winds, Hurricane Kay is forecast to bring heavy rain and wind gusts to Southern California by Friday, according to the weather service.
Rainfall of 2 to 4 inches with maximum amounts of 6 inches possible through Saturday morning may bring scattered flash flooding, the weather service said. But as Hurricane Kay brings cloud cover and rainfall, the region may also see more drastic cooling Friday.
WILDFIRE COVERAGE:California wildfires kill 4 over Labor Day weekend amid record-breaking temperatures
As temperatures soared into the triple digits throughout California, officials warned the high energy usage, including from cranking up air conditioning, could overload the energy grid and bring rolling blackouts.
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Peak electricity demand hit a record 52,061 megawatts Tuesday, according to the California Independent System Operator’s daily demand outlook. The previous high of 50,270 megawatts was set in July 2006. At 8 p.m. Tuesday, CAISO ended a Stage 3 emergency power alert and praised conservation efforts for playing “a bit part in protecting electric grid reliability,” according to a Twitter statement.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Twitter that record-breaking heat caused “more demand on our energy grid than ever before” and thanked Californians for helping avoid outages.
“But, we aren’t out of the woods yet,” Newsom said. “We will see continued extreme temps this week and if we rallied today, we can do it again.”
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Despite success in staving off rolling blackouts, about 35,700 people lost electricity in Silicon Valley and southern and inland areas of the San Francisco Bay Area, said Jason King of Pacific Gas & Electric said Tuesday evening.
There was no indication of when power would resume. Wednesday morning, thousands of people continued to be without power, according to Pacific Gas & Electric.
‘EVEN MORE EXTREME’:Blistering heat to roast California, other Western states
The National Weather Service said “extremely critical fire weather” was forecast in the region as low humidity and heat “support the potential for new wildfires to start and existing fires to spread uncontrollably.”
Four people were killed in California wildfires over Labor Day weekend as firefighters battled 14 large fires statewide and 45 new fires erupted on Sunday alone.
In Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park is warning visitors to prepare for “excessively hot days in the coming weeks” after a hiker’s death over Labor Day weekend.
The park said 59-year-old Delphine Martinez of Window Rock, Arizona, was on a multiday backpacking trip when she became disoriented and lost consciousness Sunday along Thunder River Trail, about a mile from where Tapeats Creek meets the Colorado River. The park said trip members tried to resuscitate her, without success.
“Park rangers strongly advise not hiking in the inner canyon during the heat of the day between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.,” Grand Canyon National Park said in a statement.” Hiking in extreme heat can lead to serious health risks including heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hyponatremia and death.” 
Contributing: The Associated Press; Eve Chen and Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.


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