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Cal-ISO, utilities ask consumers to conserve amid record-breaking heat wave


Record high temperatures set in numerous Northwestern cities

ISO and utilities encourage energy conservation

Mid-C on-peak day-ahead up 426% to mid-$310s/MWh for June 27-28 delivery

  • Author
  • Grace Parker
  • Editor
  • Richard Rubin
  • Commodity
  • Electric Power

The California Independent System Operator and utilities in the Pacific Northwest are urging consumers to conserve energy to reduce stress on the power grid as record-breaking heat saturates the region and drives up power prices and demand.

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An extreme heat wave began intensifying across the West on June 23, resulting in numerous excessive heat warnings, watches, and advisories throughout eight states, namely Washington, Oregon and Idaho, according to the National Weather Service. The warnings remain in effect for much of the region through 11 pm June 29. Red flag warnings were also issued through 9 pm June 28, as fire weather concerns mount amid increasing temperatures and dry conditions.

The "historic and dangerous heat wave" broke many all-time temperature highs over the weekend, with Portland soaring to 112 Fahrenheit and Seattle to 104 F June 27. However, even hotter temperatures were expected June 28, which "will likely go down in history as the hottest day ever recorded" for the Pacific Northwest, the US National Weather Service said.

Utility, consumer preparedness amid high demand

Cal-ISO peakload demand was projected to climb 8.8% day on day to 40.16 GW June 28, up 9.4% week on week, according to grid operator data.

Given a strong demand and temperature forecast, the Cal-ISO issued a heat bulletin June 27, underscoring the "potential for resource shortfalls" June 28 and encouraging "voluntary consumer conservation ... to keep the power grid stable."

Utilities in the Pacific Northwest also released public alerts urging customers to reduce power consumption, particularly during peak demand times. Portland General Electric Co., the largest investor-owned utility in Oregon, said in a news release June 24 its "team is working to ensure systems are ready to perform during periods of peak demand."

Avista Corp. implemented "temporary changes to power line operations in its Washington and Idaho service area ... to decrease the potential for wildfires that could occur when re-energizing a power line," the utility said June 25. Normal distribution and operation practices were said to resume once "weather permits and fire potential decreases."

Pricing impact

Amid heightening heat and fire weather concerns, power prices in the Northwest spiked in June 25 trading.

Mid-Columbia on-peak day-ahead reached a three-year high June 25, skyrocketing about 426% day on day to $315.52/MWh for June 27-28 delivery, over 3,000% higher than its 2020 price a year ago, according to S&P Global Platts data.

John Day on-peak day-ahead also saw its highest level since March 2019, jumping 412% day on day to $317.50/MWh and over 2,500% year on year.

California-Oregon Border on-peak day-ahead rose 364% day on day to $325/MWh, its highest level since August 2020 and up over 2,200% year on year. Nevada-Oregon Border on-peak day-ahead hiked 338% day on day and over 2,600% year on year to trade around $272.75/MWh.