High temperatures are expected to reach the upper 80s along the coast and triple digits in San Diego’s inland valleys throughout much of the week, according to the National Weather Service. The heat wave could generate high energy demand as more people crank up their air conditioners. It could also put the region’s summer power supply to the test as the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) remains shut down.
“We’re concerned about the tight supplies in southern Orange County and the San Diego regions whenever there are very hot days, unusually hot days or a hot extended heatwave,” said Steven Greenlee, spokesman for California Independent System Operator. “But at least at this particular time, this next week doesn’t rise to those levels.”
Greenlee said power challenges would likely arise if temperatures reached the high 90s or 100s throughout the county. “It’s more of a matter of temperatures combined with demand. So we know it when we see it, but it’s not that we can actually put a number on it,” said Greenlee.
In the event of a power shortage, Greenlee said the state’s emergency alert system will be activated. The Flex Alert program will inform residents via television, radio and text messages to conserve energy by turning off air conditioners and other household appliances during the peak hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.
San Diego Gas and Eectric’s new Sunrise Powerlink will help meet the energy demand, said spokeswoman Allison Zaragoza. The 117-mile transmission line connects San Diego and Imperial County and produces 800 megawatts — enough to power 650,000 homes.
“Anything could happen at any time, even if this was a normal summer with SONGS,” said Zaragoza. “But despite having those adequate resources, we want to let customers know that conservation is always key, not only because of the energy factor but because it saves money on the bill.”