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Cal-ISO issues flex alert due to capacity, temperatures, wildfires


Oct. 1 peakload forecast 20% above September average

Temperatures as much as 17 degrees above norms

NP15 prices 96% above September average

Houston — The California Independent System Operator has issued a flex alert for Oct. 1 due to expected reduced capacity, with high temperatures and fire activity anticipated to increase air conditioning demand.

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The flex alert, which is a call for voluntary electricity conservation, is in effect 3-10 pm PT Oct. 1.

"With high temperatures in the forecast, the power grid operator is predicting an increase in electricity demand, primarily from air conditioning use," the grid operator said in a statement. "Reduced capacity, along with fire activity and heat, has led to a potential shortage of energy supply [Oct. 1] evening."

The alert was necessary as resource adequacy dips going into October, Cal-ISO outgoing CEO Steve Berberich said during the Oct. 1 board meeting about the change in seasons.

"Those resources are no longer under contract," he said.

The ISO forecast peakload at around 43.4 GW Oct. 1, 20% higher than the September average and 52% higher than the October 2019 average, according to ISO data.

Temperatures across the grid operator's footprint are forecast as much as 17 degrees above seasonal norms, according to CustomWeather.

The SP15 on-peak day-ahead locational marginal price was $77.45/MWh for Oct. 1 delivery, 54% higher than the September average and 119% higher than the October 2019 average, according to ISO data. NP15 on-peak day-ahead LMP was $90.76/MWh for Oct. 1 delivery, 96% above the September average and 137% above the October 2019 average.

Wildfire situation

There are currently 24 major wildfires burning across the state, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Since the beginning of the year, there have been more than 8,100 wildfires that have burned well over 3.9 million acres in California. Another fire death was announced Sept. 30, bringing the total number of fatalities to 30, according to CAL FIRE.

"A strong upper level ridge is responsible for the ongoing heat wave in California," according to the US National Weather Service. "Excessive heat warnings and heat advisories extend from San Diego to San Francisco [Oct. 1] and sizzling temperatures look to stick around in Southern California through Friday. In addition to the heat, elevated fire weather conditions persist along the Transverse Ranges and red flag warnings up the California coast."

Air quality alerts remain in place over portions of the US West Coast and central High Plains due to ongoing bouts with wildfire smoke causing poor air pollution, according to NWS.

Additional ISO alerts, notices

A grid alert, which allows operators to call up demand response supply, was issued for a possible power shortage in the day-ahead market, for one hour beginning at 6 pm Oct. 1.

A Restricted Maintenance Operations notice, which allows operators to call all available generation onto the system and bring back transmission that may be offline for planned maintenance, was issued for 6 am to 10 pm Oct. 1.

Consumers are urged to conserve electricity, especially during the late afternoon and early evening, when the grid is most stressed due to higher demand and solar energy production falling, according to the grid operator. Consumers are also asked to turn off unnecessary lights, delay using major appliances until after 10 pm and set air conditioner thermostats to 78 degrees or higher.

"The conservation measures can help the power grid during a time of tight demand and supply, and avoid power interruptions," Cal-ISO said in the statement. "Energy reduction during a Flex Alert can prevent further emergency measures, including rotating power outages."