Californians asked to save power as heat wave hits this weekend

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Triple digit temperatures are expected again this Labor Day weekend across Southern California.

And with the heat wave comes a warning: Save power to avoid the need for rotating blackouts.

The state has issued a Flex Alert, asking for Californians to try to minimize electricity usage during the peak hours, 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday through Monday.

California's Independent System Operator says if residents conserve, there shouldn't be a need for rolling blackouts this weekend, but they do remain a possibility.

"They typically last about an hour in a neighborhood, so not an entire community is usually impacted," said Reggie Kumar with SoCal Edison. "But again we have not been directed by CAISO to conduct rotating outages this weekend at this time."

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday signed an emergency proclamation that will lift some state regulations on power plants, helping them generate more electricity during the weekend heat wave.

The proclamation lifts certain restrictions that are normally in place to help maintain air quality. It allows, for example, ships docked at ports to run their auxiliary engines or generators instead of drawing power from the state's electrical grid and it lets thermal power plants exceed the normal temperature limits on waste discharge.

RELATED: Latest weather forecast for Labor Day weekend in Southern California

Physicians are also warning people about the dangers of outdoor activity - or being indoors without air conditioning - during the extreme heat.

"The heat exhaustion, the heat stroke, these things can come on very suddenly," said Dr. Michael Daignault, an emergency physician with Providence St. Joseph Medical Center.

The coronavirus pandemic is adding further complications to staying cool, with shopping malls and movie theaters closed. Local beaches are expected to be swamped, with the potential for crowds not following social distancing protocols as they risk spreading the virus.

"We really don't want to see another uptick in cases like we experienced after Memorial Day and after July Fourth that were directly attributed to people hosting gatherings in their homes and attending parties," Daignault said.

SoCal Edison is asking customers to set their thermostats at 78 degrees - or if you won't be home, bump it up to 85.

And Kumar notes there are small changes you can make to save power. For example, if grilling go outside so your home doesn't get warmer from the oven, or use a microwave instead. Also, "pre-cool" your home by running the air conditioning a little cooler than usual prior to the peak heat period so it will already be cooler as it gets the hottest outside.
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