(Reuters) – California avoided rotating power outages as demand hit a record on Tuesday and prices soared to a two-year high as homes and businesses cranked up their air conditioners to escape a brutal heat wave blanketing the drought-stricken region.
The California Independent System Operator (ISO), grid operator for most of the state, told utilities to prepare customers for possible rotating outages Tuesday afternoon, but canceled that call late Tuesday with no outages needed.
The ISO, however, continued to urge consumers to conserve energy for an eighth consecutive day on Wednesday evening when the sun goes down and solar power stops working. Solar provided about a third of the grid’s electricity in the middle of the day on Tuesday but nothing at night.
“Consumer conservation played a big part in protecting electric grid reliability,” the ISO said in a tweet.
California’s week-long run of record-breaking temperatures will continue this week with highs reaching the 110s Fahrenheit (mid 40s Celsius) in interior parts of the state, according to the National Weather Service.
The last time the ISO ordered utilities to shed power was for two days in August 2020 when outages affecting about 800,000 homes and businesses lasted anywhere from 15 minutes to about two-1/2 hours.
California’s biggest utilities are PG&E (NYSE:) Corp’s Pacific Gas and Electric, Edison International (NYSE:)’s Southern California Edison and Sempra Energy (NYSE:)’s San Diego Gas and Electric.
The ISO said power demand hit a preliminary 52,061 megawatts (MW) on Tuesday, breaking the prior all-time high of 50,270 MW in 2006. The ISO projected usage would peak at 51,180 MW on Wednesday.
Power prices at the Palo Verde hub in Arizona and SP-15 in Southern California rose to $1,000 and $550 per megawatt hour, respectively. That was their highest for a second consecutive day since hitting record highs of $1,311 in Palo Verde and $698 in SP-15 in August 2020 when the ISO last imposed rotating outages.