During the hot summer months of Southern California, it is important to know how to stay cool while conserving energy. Flex Alerts are an important tool used by the State to help customers conserve energy and help avoid or reduce the size of power outages.
The California Independent System Operator (CAISO), which manages the flow of electricity for California, issues flex alerts when energy demand exceeds energy supply. Flex alerts request customers to voluntarily conserve electricity during times of high demand.
They are often triggered by:
- Hot weather, especially persistent heatwaves, when air conditioner use drives up electricity demand
- Unplanned power plant outages
- Loss of transmission lines or equipment
While flex alerts aim to reduce the amount of power outages, if the demand does not decrease enough, a rotating power outage may become necessary. Some flex alerts are labeled with one of the following emergency stages:
Stage 1: Strong need for electricity conservation
Stage 2: Requires the California grid operator to order additional power plants online
Stage 3: Notice issued to utilities (i.e., SDG&E) for potential rotating power outages.
Any area in the state can be a part of a flex alert outage. CAISO will order the state’s investor-owned utilities to immediately reduce the electrical load by turning off service to a portion of customers. Typically, SDG&E’s website will show the areas and times the rotating outages will occur, which usually lasts one hour.
During the summer months, customers should consider the following tips to limit energy use and lower bill costs:
- Shut off lights when leaving a room
- Turn off and unplug all electronics and appliances that are not in use
- Set thermostats to 78 degrees when home and to 85 degrees or “off” when away
- Close blinds to keep out heat from the sun
- Minimize dryer use when doing laundry. Instead, let your clothes air dry by hanging them outside.
- Limit the opening and reopening of refrigerators, which are major users of electricity in many homes
- Avoid using the oven. Instead, cook on the stove, use a microwave, or grill outside to keep your home cooler
- When possible, businesses should shift power-intensive work to the morning or late evening hours
Reducing your energy use during late afternoon and evening hours will help during a Flex Alert and may help you save money on your electricity bill!
To sign up and opt-in for Flex Alerts, visit FlexAlert.org.