Oceanside CA – This summer, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is reminding customers that, while adequate electricity supplies are available to meet regional energy needs, conservation and demand response will still be vital during heat waves or an unplanned power plant outage or transmission line emergency.
Summer began early this year with heat waves beginning in May, and SDG&E customers helped do their part to keep the electric grid running smoothly by responding to calls for conservation during the wildfires in the northern part of San Diego County. With the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) permanently offline and the potential for summer heat waves or wildfires, Southern California may face another tight summer for electric resources.
“Providing safe and reliable energy is a top priority at SDG&E and is a responsibility that we take very seriously,” said Steven D. Davis, SDG&E’s president and chief operating officer. “SDG&E is prepared to meet this summer’s energy demand but we expect that there will be days when we will need help from customers through conservation and demand response and we appreciate all efforts by our customers so far this year to help keep the electric system running smoothly during the recent wildfires.”
The Sunrise Powerlink continues to increase reliability and improve Southern California’s ability to import power, particularly from new renewable generation projects in Imperial Valley. SDG&E has increased the reliability of the local grid over the past year with several major transmission system enhancements as well as continuing to coordinate with the California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO) and Southern California Edison on contingency plans for adequate electricity resources for customers throughout Southern California without SONGS in operation.
“While we have enough supply to get us through the most extreme weather conditions, things we can’t predict, such as wildfires impacting transmission lines, can still create reliability challenges in Southern California — especially as we are still reinforcing the San Diego and Orange County grids after the early retirement of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station,” said Steve Berberich, ISO president and CEO. “If you hear or see a Flex Alert, please help us by conserving power until we get over the afternoon peak — voluntary conservation is better than people losing power and makes sure that everyone has the electricity they need.”
The ISO, responsible for managing the bulk of the state’s power grid, recently issued its 2014 Summer Assessment that predicts an adequate supply of electricity for meeting summer peak conditions across the state despite well below average hydroelectric supply. The assessment identified local reliability concerns focused on southern Orange and San Diego counties during extensive heat waves but reliability levels are still within operating standards. There is an estimate of 54,171 megawatts (MW) of power plant capacity available this summer within the ISO grid, including new generation of 3,644 MW and an additional 117 MW expected to come online by July 4. About 61 percent of the new power supply comes from solar power with about seven percent from other renewables.
As the weather continues to warm up, energy use typically increases due to increased use of air conditioning. Despite having adequate electric resources, conditions may change anytime due to unexpected situations that may be out of SDG&E’s control. High energy use during summer heat waves or electric transmission emergencies can have severe impacts on SDG&E’s ability to deliver power.
“For the past two summers, which have experienced relatively mild temperatures, active collaboration between California’s energy agencies, SDG&E, Southern California Edison and the California Independent System Operator has ensured adequate electricity supply for the SONGS impacted area,” said Robert B. Weisenmiller, chair of the California Energy Commission. “We need San Diego households and businesses to play their part by conserving energy and water, especially when Flex Alerts are issued as a way to help maintain service reliability during short and prolonged heat waves.”
Since 2012, SDG&E residential customers have been able to earn a bill credit for saving energy on specific days through Reduce Your Use Rewards. These Reduce Your Use days may be called on hot summer days when energy demand is high. This year, customers must sign up to receive Reduce Your Use email, text, or, new for 2014, voice alerts in order to participate and receive a bill credit. Visit sdge.com/reduceuse for information on how to sign up for alerts.
SDG&E also recently launched the Reduce Your Use Thermostat program that provides programmable communicating thermostats to eligible business and residential customers free of charge, and enables customers with the thermostats to receive a higher bill credit on Reduce Your Use Rewards days. The connected thermostats, either through Wi-Fi or connected to customers’ smart meters, are able to receive a signal directly from SDG&E on Reduce Your Use Rewards days.
SDG&E is focused on helping educate customers to make smarter energy decisions and providing tools and resources that can help them manage their electricity use and save money. By signing up for My Account, customers can access the Energy Management Tool, which helps them manage their energy use by providing daily updates on how and where they use energy the most.
During the warmer weather ahead, SDG&E recommends these tips to save on energy use and costs, and reduce impact on the grid during high-demand days. For more energy-saving tips to use throughout the year visit sdge.com/save-money or call 800-411-7343.
- Adjust your thermostat. Set it to 78F for summer AC.
- Use smart strips or unplug items when not in use.
- Replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent or LEDs.
- Use motion sensors with outdoor lighting to save up to 50 percent of your lighting costs.
- Seal and insulate your home to keep the cool air in during summer.
- Lower your water temperature or try a cold water wash with clothes, especially if you have an electric water heater.
- Change out a single speed pool pump to a variable speed one.
SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and 861,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The utility’s area spans 4,100 square miles. SDG&E is committed to creating ways to help customers save energy and money every day. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego. Connect with SDG&E’s Customer Contact Center at 800-411-7343, on Twitter (@SDGE) and Facebook.