California Heat Stokes Fire Risk, Residents Asked to Curb Power Use

By | June 12, 2019

A second day of unrelenting heat is scorching California, sending temperatures to near record levels, raising risk of wildfires and prompting calls for energy conservation.

Temperatures surged past 100 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of Northern California Tuesday, with heat advisories in effect across the state. Sacramento was forecast to hit 103 degrees.

Wholesale electricity prices at a Northern California hub surged to an average $369.08 a megawatt-hour in the hour ending at 11 a.m, the highest for that time of day in more than a year, power grid data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The hot weather, combined with high winds, forced utility giant PG&E Corp. to shut off power to thousands of customers in northern California over the weekend to avoid the kind of catastrophic wildfires that broke out last year.

On Tuesday afternoon, California’s grid manager asked residents and businesses to curb electricity use due to rising demand as people blast their air conditioners.

In San Francisco, temperatures hit 97 degrees on Monday, breaking a record for the day set in 1994, the National Weather Service said. Stockton tied a record for the day of 105, and Santa Rosa set a daily record of 100.

Relief is expected in the Bay Area Wednesday, with highs in San Francisco in the mid-70s.

The heat is forecast to spread across other parts of the western U.S. later this week. Portland is expected to hit 95 degrees Tuesday – tying a 1941 record for the date – and rise to 97 on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

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