Heat Wave Likely To Cause Power Outages, PG&E Warns

Megan Goldsby
May 26, 2020 - 6:12 pm
Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) workers remain at the scene of a three-alarm fire that started after a construction crew hit a gas line on February 07, 2019 in San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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The heat wave sweeping across the Bay Area can put a strain on PG&E’s electrical grid, and the utility is warning customers of possible power outages.

Customers are likely cranking up their air conditioners, especially with shelter orders still in effect. All of those units can put a strain on the system, but PG&E’s Deanna Contreras told KCBS Radio that it’s the heat that remains in the evening that taxes the transformers.

“When we have unusual heat events with sustained high, overnight temperatures like we’re seeing this week, transformers are just unable to cool down and that puts stress on their components,” she said. “That’s when they tend to fail.”

So PG&E is advising customers to be prepared for an outage this week, but not a purposeful public safety power shut off. Contreras said the winds necessary for one of those aren’t forecast for this week.

“We want people to always be prepared for an outage,” she said. “Always plan for a potential outage with flashlights, and batteries and radios, and do all the things you need to do to keep your family safe during a power outage.”

Ahead of that, receding your power use to ease up on the grid and your electricity bill will be helpful.

“The air conditioner can account for up to 40% of your electric bill,” Contreras explained. “Now is the time to switch out your filters, take a look at your duct work, anything to help that air conditioner run more efficiently.”

Lastly, she said that turning up your thermostat by just one degree can make a big difference.