Power demand hits peak today

As California swelters through the summer’s first big heat wave, Peninsula residents can expect to get off relatively easy, heat-wise.

But even though the temperature in San Mateo County will stay moderate, the statewide drain on the power supply will affect the region.

While inland cities are expecting temperatures in the triple digits, National Weather Service Forecaster Diana Henderson said the county is looking at clear skies and temperatures ranging from the mid-70s along the coast to the upper 80s in Redwood City. County temperatures are expected to cool to the mid-70s or lower over the weekend.

But the cooler temperatures don’t get residents off the hook for energy conservation. Gregg Fishman, spokesman for the California Independent Systems Operator, which oversees about 80 percent of the state’s power grid, said the Peninsula is connected through the power grid with the rest of the state, making demand and conservation a statewide issue.

The demand for power is expected to peak today, as people go back to work following Independence Day, Fishman said. The ISO expects customers to draw around 46,000 to 47,000 megawatts at the peak. The record power draw happened July 24, 2006, Fishman said, when California energy customers used 50,270 megawatts.

Fishman said the ISO does not expect the power demand over the next few days to cause rolling blackouts, but he cautioned customers to ration their energy anyway. Some techniques for doing so include keeping thermostats set at 78 degrees or higher, using fans and drapes to cool residences and using big appliances early in the day or later in the evening, when statewide demand is lower.

But officials with both the ISO and Pacific Gas and Electric were quick to point out that energy consumers should put their own health and safety before conservation.

“We urge people to reduce their usage as much as they can, without putting their health at risk,” Fishman said.

Nursing homes in San Mateo County were already taking precautions toward protecting their patients against the warm weather and the potential for dehydration or heat stroke.

“We open the windows and give more fluids to the patients, and we have electric fans in the hallways” for air circulation, said Norma Zarate, a supervisor at the 200-plus patient St. Francis Convalescent Pavilion in Daly City.

amartin@examiner.com

Examiner Staff Writer David Smith contributed to this report.


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