USC

Officials warn of rolling blackouts due to heat wave

As energy consumption increases, learn what to expect and how to combat power outages.

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The Southern California heat wave could leave residents vulnerable to power outages. The long-lasting heat makes people more inclined to stay indoors and use air conditioning, putting a demand on the power grid that is significantly higher than usual.

A Flex Alert encouraging people to voluntarily reduce energy consumption is in effect between what officials describe as “the critical hours” of 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“We need two to three times as much conservation as we’ve been experiencing to keep the power on with these historically high temperatures and demand,” said Elliot Mainzer, president and CEO of the California Independent System Operator.

The ISO, which runs the state’s power grid, expressed concern for the near future of energy consumption in a Monday press conference.

“We’ve entered what is going to be the most challenging so far of this unprecedented high wave,” Mainzer said in Tuesday’s press conference.

A Level 2 emergency was declared at 6:30 p.m. Monday by the ISO, activating extra resources to meet the demand. However, if demand increases, an Energy Emergency Alert Level 3 will signal “the imminent need for rotating outages.”

Steve Goldfarb, director of USC Fire Safety, Emergency Planning & Business Continuity, assured community members that the university’s emergency operations team will activate the necessary response plans in the event of a power outage.

“Many buildings have emergency generators that provide emergency power to the fire-life-safety & security systems,” Goldfarb said. “The university has plans to attach mobile generators to select buildings.”

The American Red Cross advises that in preparation for a blackout, individuals should stock up on non-perishable food and prepare to account for electronic and medical needs. Portable charging devices and monitoring one’s cell phone battery are also recommended. Flashlights are considered a safer alternative to candles.

On the live power outage tracker, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power warns customers that crews may take 4 to 12 hours to respond from the time of reporting.

Currently there is no information on how and if restoration times will be impacted by the heat wave.

Blackouts are avoidable by reducing energy consumption. Turning off lights during daylight hours, unplugging unnecessary appliances and moderate use of air conditioning can prevent power outages. This California ISO Dashboard is available to track the energy demand on the state’s power supply.

All power outages should be reported to the university’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) at 213-740-4321.