As California endured another day of record-breaking heat Sunday, officials warned that it in order to conserve energy it might be necessary to impose rolling blackouts across the region that could affect millions of customers.
Blackouts could take place during peak evening hours, 5 to 9 p.m., according to the California Independent System Operator, which runs the power grid for much of the state.
That could force utilities to cut off power to 2.5 million to 3 million customers statewide, Eric Schmitt, vice president of operations for California ISO, said Sunday at a news briefing.
The ISO was urging consumers to conserve energy, particularly during the peak demand time of 3 to 6 p.m.
“I think it’s fair to say that without really significant conservation and help from customers today that we’ll have to have some rolling outages,” Schmitt, said. “So this is really an appeal for people to help us out to get through what will prove to be a very, very difficult day.”
If blackouts should occur, Southern California will notify affected customer via phone, text message and email as soon as possible, sad Reggie Kumar, a spokesman for Southern California Edison.
“We know that people are working from home and kids are doing online learning so we understand how disruptive these outages can be,” he said. “If directed by CAISO, we will try to make sure they are as short as possible with the least impact on any one group of customers.”
The outages typically last an hour and affect a neighborhood, not an entire community, Kumar said.
As of Sunday afternoon, much of Southern California Edison’s 18,000-plus reported outages were in Los Angeles County, where more than 10,000 customers were without power. The largest outages include 1,203 in Inglewood and 1,126 in Paramount, as of 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
The outages were heat- and non-fire-related, Kumar said, but overall, the electricity distribution system was performing well.
As of Sunday afternoon, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power had enough power supplies and did not anticipate the need to implement rolling blackouts, a DWP spokesman said.
The utility did experience some small power outages in West Adams, Reseda, Sun Valley and Pacoima, among other places. As of Sunday morning, about 7,000 customers were without power, and crews had worked around the clock to restore power to 37,000 after temperatures and energy demand soared, according to the utility.
A historic heat wave has brought triple-digit temperatures to much of Southern California, with Woodland Hills on Sunday recording an all-time high of 121 degrees, which the National Weather Service said was the hottest temperature recorded at an official weather station in Los Angeles County.
It broke the old record of 119 degrees set in July 2006 and was one of several records to fall Sunday. The weather service said Riverside hit its highest temperature ever for September at 117 degrees; Santa Ana hit a record high for the day at 106. Idyllwild hit 103, tying an all-time record.
Malibu Search and Rescue responded to several heat-related incidents Saturday.
A woman in her late 40s was hiking on a trail in Calabasas in the Santa Monica Mountains when she began to feel sick and collapsed at 2 p.m., said L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy Juanita Navarro.
She was pronounced dead at the scene. The official cause of death is still unknown, Navarro said.
In response to the dangerous heat wave, all trails in the Santa Monica Mountains are closed through Labor Day, Malibu Search and Rescue said in a tweet.
In Angeles National Forest, the Sheriff Department search and rescue team performed an air rescue on a semiconscious hiker with heat exhaustion on the popular Strawberry Peak trail, where temperatures often soar on the route, which has minimal shade in the afternoon.
The hot weather has hampered firefighting and heat-related rescue efforts across the state.
In the Sierra National Forest northeast of Fresno, the 45,500-acre Creek fire trapped more than 200 hikers in the Mammoth Pool recreation area when it crossed the San Joaquin River on Saturday afternoon, prompting a massive rescue effort by the California National Guard.
In Los Angeles County, the fast-moving Bobcat fire quickly grew to 1,000 acres when it started Sunday afternoon near the popular West Fork Picnic Area, a usually peaceful, wooded area where many residents visit to fish and swim in the cool San Gabriel River.
More than 300 firefighters in San Diego County attempted to slow the fast-moving 5,000-acre Valley fire, fed by gusty winds, that started Saturday and had threatened the power lines that supply a large portion of San Diego County.
The El Dorado fire in San Bernardino County prompted further evacuations in Yucaipa as it grew to more than 3,000 acres Sunday afternoon.
Hoist Rescue, hiker with heat exhaustion, Strawberry Peak Trail, Angeles Forest. #LASD Air Rescue 5 inserts LASD SEB Tactical Medics to rescue semi-conscious hiker. Airlifted to hospital. Very high temperatures today. Please do not hike without ample water supply. pic.twitter.com/ovfBhiRrKj
— SEB (@SEBLASD) September 5, 2020
Times staff writer Sammy Roth contributed to this report.