“A Flex Alert urging consumers to reduce their power use in the late afternoon and evening is also in effect today and tomorrow, marking seven consecutive days the call to cut demand has been issued.” (CAISO, September 5, 2022)
“I’ve lived in California for more than 70 years and seen her go from the prettiest girl in class to a haggard washed-up starlet. She needs an intervention. My grandson deserves nothing less.” ( — California resident Tom Tanton)
It is another example of fiction-to-fact from an Ayn Rand novel. Spiraling government intervention with an essential commodity has predictably created a shortage, then calls for sacrifice and threatened rationing. The narrative is that “historic heat” from “climate change” is the culprit–and fighting climate change requires the population to reset their comfort zone … down.
It is the Mises Interventionist Thesis at work.
Flex Alert Conservation Actions
“Reducing energy use during a Flex Alert can help stabilize the power grid during tight supply conditions and prevent further emergency measures, including rotating power outages,” the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) states. The club is in the closet. Mandatory conservation (conservationism) is next.
Specifically, here is the instruction from California authorities:
From 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. (“flex alert”):
The state’s three big utilities–Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE), under the regulatory thumb of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), have been forced into the conservationism business. As discussed in yesterday’s post, the utilities pay customers to submit to the “flex alert” program as part of the Emergency Load Reduction Program. The utilities are also authorized to give “power saver awards” to customers who pare usage during a “flex alert.”
All this is farcical given the stated mission of the California Independent System Operation (CAISO):
A reliable and accessible power grid
The California Independent System Operator (ISO) maintains reliability on one of the largest and most modern power grids in the world, and operates a transparent, accessible wholesale energy market. The organization works diligently around the clock to meet the electricity needs of consumers, while increasing the amount of renewable energy to usher in the clean, green grid of the future.
The CAISO home page uses these catch phrases:
Final Comment: Tom Tanton
Long-time California resident and energy specialist Thomas Tanton penned these thoughts about the ongoing power crisis:
In 1939, John Steinbeck described the Joad family’s escape from dust-bowl Oklahoma to the state of California, which was ripe with opportunity. Not coincidentally, California’s population boomed from just under 7 million in the late 1930s to more than 40 million.
BUT the trend is now reversing. Water, energy shortages, and the highest energy prices in the nation brought about by hubris in government overwhelm the beauty that is California. Not content to short us on the supply of electricity, now they’re mandating we trash our cars in favor of electric (née “zero emissions”) vehicles, which will only make blackouts more frequent and severe.
Folks who follow this stuff are wondering if we’re just on a glide path to stranded assets (the history of California’s energy and water policy is dominated by stories of stranded assets). We even had an electric vehicle mandate in the 1990s.
What do I see and hear today? Without normal air conditioning, many head for the beach in cars and trucks. But what about those with EVs? How will you get to the cooling ocean or lake if your EV is undercharged (‘demand side managed’)?
“I’ve lived in California for more than 70 years and seen her go from the prettiest girl in class to a haggard washed-up starlet,” Tanton concludes. “She needs an intervention. My grandson deserves nothing less.”
Record-breaking temperatures are leading to historic high forecasted
demands for power, putting even greater strain on the California Independent System Operator (ISO) electrical grid and significantly increasing the likelihood of rotating outages unless consumers can reduce their energy use even more than they have so far.
“This is an extraordinary heat event we are experiencing, and the efforts by consumers to lean in and reduce their energy use after 4 p.m. are absolutely essential,” said Elliot Mainzer, the California Independent System Operator’s president and CEO. “Over the last several days we have seen a positive impact on lowering demand because of everyone’s help, but now we need a reduction in energy use that is two or three times greater than what we’ve seen so far as this historic heat wave continues to intensify.”
The ISO declared an Energy Emergency Alert 1 (EEA) Monday morning from 5 to 9 p.m. today.
That emergency designation signals to utilities and consumers that all resources are committed or forecasted to be in use, and that energy deficiencies are expected. A Flex Alert urging consumers to reduce their power use in the late afternoon and evening is also in effect today and tomorrow, marking seven consecutive days the call to cut demand has been issued.
September 3, 2022
The California Independent System Operator (ISO) has issued another statewide Flex Alert, calling for voluntary electricity conservation for today, Saturday, Sept. 3 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., due to increasing high heat, tightening energy supplies and more potential strain on the grid.
September 2, 2022
For the third straight day, high heat and heightened demand for electricity has resulted in the California Independent System Operator (ISO) issuing a statewide call for voluntary electricity conservation. The most recent Flex Alert has been issued for today, Friday, Sept. 2., from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
With triple-digit temperatures in much of California and the West, the power grid operator is again expecting high electricity demand, primarily from air conditioning use, and needs voluntary conservation steps to help balance supply and demand.
Flex Alerts have been resulting in some helpful conservation and grid operators and an emergency proclamation from Gov. Gavin Newsom, requested by the ISO, has also freed up some additional resources.
A Restricted Maintenance Operations (RMO) remains in place through Tuesday, Sept. 6, each day from noon to 10 p.m. The declaration orders market participants to avoid any scheduled routine maintenance during those times to ensure all available resources are in service.
September 1, 2022
The California Independent System Operator (ISO) has extended its statewide Flex Alert, calling for a second consecutive day of voluntary electricity conservation tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 1, from 4 to 9 p.m., due to continuing extreme temperatures pushing up energy demand and tightening available power supplies.
August 31, 2022
The California Independent System Operator (ISO) has issued a statewide Flex Alert, a call for voluntary electricity conservation, for today, Aug. 31 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., due to high temperatures pushing up energy demand and tightening available power supplies.
With excessive heat in the forecast across much of the state and Western U.S., the grid operator is expecting high electricity demand, primarily from air conditioning use, and is calling for voluntary conservation steps to help balance supply and demand.
Additional Flex Alerts are also possible through the Labor Day weekend as recordsetting temperatures are forecast across much of the West. In what’s likely to be the most extensive heat wave so far in the West this year, temperatures in Northern California are expected to be 10-20 degrees warmer than normal through Tuesday, Sept. 6.
In Southern California, temperatures are expected to be 10-18 degrees warmer than normal. Death Valley is currently forecast to peak at 126 degrees on Saturday, which would tie the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth in the month of September.
Hasn’t CA banned the use of home emergency generators as well?
Robert, no one is in more acute need of access to energy than our old acquaintance Anthony Watts.
I hope he weathered Labor Day in the temperate foothills of California’s snowy mountain spine, but fear the worst, as there has been no report from his home weather station, and temperatures in neighboring back yards reportedly plunged as low as 104 F last night.
Might a little assistance be diverted from Pakistan?
I hope not.
Lives might be lost even in temperate climes, like Northern California
I think Anthony Watts moved out of California a year or two ago.
Though it is recommended to charge EVs at night, if you look at CAISO’s website, natural gas supplies about 50% of the California generated electricity during that time. Further, California imports about 30% of its electricity from neighboring states. It’s hard to tell what makes up the generation mix of those nighttime imports at any given time of the year but it will NOT be solar. Most likely, at least 50% of the imports will also be from natural gas.. So EVs charged overnight will really be using about 65-75% natural gas generated electricity, taking away much of any claimed advantages of EVs CO2 emission reductions.
I’ve asked CAISO about the generation makeup of imported electricity but have not received an answer yet.
Thank you Kevin–good information to know.