The bitter cold that's locked down much of the United States is having an effect even in relatively warm California: demand for natural gas for heating and extra power back east is cutting supplies to Southern California gas-fired power plants. That's prompted the state's grid operator to ask us all to cut down on the power we use.
In other words, the California Independent System Operator Corporation is issuing a statewide Flex Alert for Thursday, February 6, lasting until 10:00 p.m.
"While the natural gas shortage is only impacting Southern California power plants," says CaISO in its announcement Thursday, "statewide electricity and gas conservation will help free up both electricity and gas supplies for Southern Californians. Customers in both Southern and Northern California are asked to reduce their energy use between 1:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m."
Though Flex Alert energy-saving practices should be pretty familiar to most Californians, it's always a good idea to review them. They include all the basic conservation measures we should be following anyway, including turning off unused lights and appliances, saving postponable loads of laundry and dishes until evening, and turning thermostats either down or up, depending on which part of the state you're in, to save energy in climate control.
One other energy-saving measure CaISO's recommending might just provoke a resentful eye-roll from our currently snow-bound fellow Americans: the agency suggests we set our swimming pool pumps to stay off until after the end of the FlexAlert at 10:00 p.m.
FlexAlerts are voluntary calls for Californians to save energy in their homes and businesses issued when the grid's margin between supply and demand threatens to get a little bit too thin. You can sign up to get FlexAlerts via email or text message at the FlexAlert website, or follow the FlexAlert Twitter account.