Los Angeles News

Summer power shortage, heat may trigger rolling blackouts

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

With the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station out of commission, energy conservation will be key this summer to avoid the possibility of rolling blackouts when the mercury rises.

San Onofre had provided electricity for 1.5 to 1.7 million homes. The power plant was closed recently due to wear and tear on tubes carrying radioactive material. It is expected to remain shut down through the summer. To make up for that, SoCal Edison is firing up older plants in Huntington Beach and new upgrades on transmission lines are expected.

<Because it is so close to San Onofre, South Orange County is expected to be the hardest-hit area for rolling blackouts.

This July and August are projected to be some of the hottest summer months on record, which has energy officials very concerned. They say that if people do not conserve, we could deal with the possibility of rolling blackouts.

Power officials gathered Wednesday in Alhambra to launch a major public effort to get the word out about conservation.

Officials with the California Independent System Operator, the California Energy Commission and Southern California Edison are all part of that public awareness campaign. Authorities released three TV Flex Alert advertisements to get the public ready for such emergency situations like blackouts. All customers can also sign up on social media sites for alerts and even monitor in real time if a power shortage on the way.

Authorities also toured a training faciltiy at the ISO control center that actually simulates power grid heat wave drills, as workers have already started getting trained for those situations.

But officials say the best thing people can do is take matters into their own hands.

California ISO representative Stephanie McCorkle advised people to avoid the air-conditioning rush hour in the late afternoon during hot summer days. Flex Alerts for heat waves are usually sent one day in advance, so the next day, McCorkle said you should set your thermostat to 78 degrees or turn it off if you're going to be away from the house.

"Draw the drapes, get the ceiling fans going, watch your use of lighting and put off doing those chores until after dinnertime," said McCorkle.

In addition, you're also advised to turn off the lights when they're not in use and use appliances after 6 p.m.

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