California heatwave: Multiple Bay Area cities may have unnecessarily cut power to thousands of homes

Some northern California cities seem to have instituted blackouts Tuesday by mistake after miscommunication with the state’s energy grid operator, the California Unbiased System Operator, amid the historic warmth wave.

A minimum of three Bay Space cities kicked off the rotating blackouts Tuesday evening — Alameda, Healdsburg and Palo Alto. Every metropolis is a member of the Northern California Energy Company, or NCPA, a joint nonprofit authority.

One other member, Lodi in San Joaquin County, stated his utility firm, Lodi Electrical, was informed to shed energy at 6 p.m. Tuesday after which shut off energy to 1,372 prospects in a number of neighborhoods at 6 p.m. 20 a.m. Energy was restored simply after 7 a.m. afternoon, after the NCPA informed Lodi “we will restore energy and we’re on standby,” in accordance with Mary Campbell, public info officer for town of Lodi.

However at 8:30 p.m., Lodi officers stated on town’s Fb web page that that they had realized that “the Lodi load shedding order was in error.”

“The NCPA knowledgeable Lodi Electrical that there was a communication error between them and Cal ISO which brought about the NCPA to problem the order to Lodi and different NCPA members,” town stated.

Lodi resident Larry Whitted was one in every of hundreds of shoppers affected by the unintended rotating blackouts on Tuesday evening. Whitted stated he obtained a textual content message about ten minutes after the facility reduce that learn, “CAISO has declared a system emergency. Lodi has to dump. One (1) hour of energy outage will happen in your space inside half-hour. Medical emergencies, name 911.

His electrical energy was out for about 45 minutes, Whitted stated. Whereas he had anticipated a possible outage and felt the outage was “not an issue for us”, Whitted stated he was upset by media studies and official statements claiming California will not be had skilled no rotating failure on Tuesday night.

Gavin Newsom tweeted that there have been no emergency blackouts, however I do know there have been as a result of I used to be in a single,” Whitted stated.

NCPA members embrace Lodi, Alameda, Healdsburg, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, Biggs, Gridley, Lompoc, Redding, Roseville, Shasta Lake and Ukiah.

California’s ISO stated round 5:30 p.m. Tuesday that electrical energy provides have been low amid unprecedented demand as California’s record-breaking heatwave strained the grid. The unbiased system operator moved to Stage 3 of emergency operations, which allowed it to order utilities to provoke shutdowns if vital.

The rolling blackouts in a number of California municipalities on Tuesday evening weren’t ordered by the community operator and have been the results of confusion and misunderstanding, community CEO Elliot Mainzer stated in a name Wednesday. to the media.

“These are conditions which have clearly occurred very not often, and loads occurred on the grid for everybody final evening, so we’ll double down on communication to be sure that does not occur once more,” he stated. stated Mainzer.

Additional strains on the facility grid are anticipated on Wednesday, when peak demand is forecast at 51,243 megawatts – not too removed from Tuesday’s file excessive of 52,061 MW. (Exceeding 50,000 MW is extraordinarily uncommon.) One other Flex Alert asking residents to save lots of electrical energy was issued from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Alameda stated in a Fb submit Tuesday night that California ISO “declared a Stage 3 Alert from 6-8pm tonight which is triggering our deployment outages. We needed to shut 2 circuits, Marina Village and East Finish, and outages will final 45-60 minutes.

A second hour of outages on Bay Farm Island has been canceled, town utility stated.

Alameda Municipal Vitality published an announcement Wednesday morning stated the NCPA requested Alameda to unload round 5:45 p.m., leading to energy outages for 1,400 prospects from 6:05 p.m. to 7:05 p.m. “If the NCPA orders us to drop the load, AMP should act,” the assertion learn.

“Along with the NCPA at the side of CAISO, we’re working to make clear procedures to stop pointless outages from occurring sooner or later,” the assertion stated.

Town of Healdsburg stated round 6:20 p.m. Tuesday that it was ordered by the California ISO to close off energy for about an hour. About 90 minutes later, town stated the facility outages have been over as a result of decrease system hundreds.

Palo Alto Utilities, town’s municipal utility, stated round 6:30 p.m. the facility was reduce in response to state efforts to cut back electrical energy demand. The company stated about 1,700 prospects in downtown, outdated Palo Alto and the commercial park have been affected by the outage. About half an hour later, the utility stated energy was restored after California’s ISO cleared it.

Jordan Cowman, a spokesman for Palo Alto Utilities, stated Wednesday they have been one in every of a number of utilities that have been contacted and licensed to start closings. He stated he believed the NCPA and California ISO have been working collectively, however didn’t say who Palo Alto Utilities acquired the clearance from.

“We (reduce off) the quantity requested from our utility, after which we acquired the go-ahead,” Cowman stated.

Metropolis of Healdsburg and NCPA officers didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Some California residents at many utilities, together with Pacific Fuel & Electrical Co., additionally skilled unplanned outages in the course of the warmth wave as extraordinarily sizzling temperatures trigger electrical tools akin to transformers to fail. These are completely different from rotating blackouts or pre-planned blackouts to cut back the danger of wildfire.

Jessica Flores (she/her) and Claire Hao are writers for the San Francisco Chronicle. E-mail:,, Twitter: @jessmflores, @clairehao_

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