First published in the Sept. 3 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.
Local officials are urging residents and businesses to help conserve energy through the weekend and into next week to help avoid the need to impose rolling blackouts during the heat wave.
With temperatures in Glendale expected to hover around 100 degrees through Tuesday, officials with Glendale Water and Power have warned that, depending on energy demand, it may need to impose a rolling blackout schedule on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in order to protect the power grid. Customers this week have already been receiving Flex Alerts from the state asking homeowners and businesses to curb their electricity usage to accommodate for the heavier air conditioning demand.
“If people conserve, we don’t have to go there,” explained Daniel Scorza, the chief assistant general manager for electricity at GWP. “If you use your air conditioner, don’t use other things in the house. Don’t add to that load. Conservation is key.”
To be clear, this is not a unique request for Glendale. Most of California has been under an excessive heat watch warning from the National Weather Service since Wednesday, with Gov. Gavin Newsom saying it could be the “worst heat wave of the year,” has declared a statewide grid emergency.
GWP has not utilized rolling power outages since 2019, when a transformer in the Rossmoyne substation exploded in an unusual incident and, in a cascading effect from the sudden surge in power being rerouted, melted a distribution station cable at the Scholl substation. Rolling outages are voluntary power cut-offs to certain sections of grid for shorts periods to manage demand against a constrained energy supply.
“When you don’t have enough generation to meet loads, the system will collapse,” Scorza said. “To prevent that from happening, you balance the system by taking the load away. This is not just us, but it’s every utility that’s tied to the grid, especially in Southern California.”
During this alert, GWP customers are being asked to consider the following:
• Limit appliance use during peak hours of the day — use them in early morning hours or after 8 p.m.
• Adjust air conditioning thermostats to 78 when home and to 80 degrees when not home, keeping in mind the health of family members and pets.
• Charge your electrical vehicles after 9 p.m.
• Run pool pumps earlier in the morning. Ensure they are not running from 3-8 p.m.
• Use a ceiling fan instead of the AC whenever possible — remember, fans cool people, not rooms.
• Close all curtains and blinds to keep out direct sunlight and keep your home cool.
• Make sure all HVAC vents are clean and filters have been replaced.
• Turn off lights in rooms that are not in use.
• Use LEDs wherever possible since they don’t give off heat and are more efficient.
• Air dry dishes after running the dishwasher.
• Keep refrigerators full since a full one uses less energy (and don’t open the refrigerator during outages).
• Unplug “energy vampires” — cell phone chargers, DVD players, microwave ovens and other appliances with digital clocks that use energy even when turned off or in sleep mode.
• When possible, businesses should shift power-intensive work processes to morning or evening hours.
In the event rolling outages are deployed, they will not last more than one hour at a time and will rotate among different neighborhoods as the load dictates. Outages are typically geared toward residential areas to avoid disrupting medical and food facilities, as well as first responders.
“Depending on the amount that we’re short, we look to see where are our locations [to deenergize],” Scorza said. “If there’s a hospital on that feeder, that’s not one we’re going to take down.”
Customers can sign up to receive any type of outage text alert by visiting GlendaleCA.gov/OutageTextAlerts, or visit GWP’s outage map online at GlendaleWaterandPower.com to view all outage updates.
Meanwhile, GWP crews have been pulled from typical maintenance duty and placed on standby to handle any unexpected power disruptions during the heat wave. Scorza said this is to remove incidental chances of triggering accidental power outages, and that so far this week, there haven’t been any major outages to deal with.
“Only emergency work is being performed. If there’s an outage, there will be emergency work to restore it, so that’s mainly what our crews are focusing on,” he said. “We’re to the point where we don’t want to get close to a circuit and accidentally trip it while working on it.”
During the heat wave, residents — especially those without air conditioning — can also access the following cooling stations in Glendale through Wednesday, Sept. 7th, from 10 to 6 p.m.:
• Adult Recreation Center, 201 E. Colorado St. (818) 548-3775
• Maple Park Community Center, 820 E. Maple Ave. (818) 548-3783 or (818) 548-3694; this location is closed on Monday for Labor Day
• Pacific Community Center, 501 S. Pacific Ave. (818) 548-4098; this location is closed on Monday for Labor Day
• Sparr Heights Community Center, 1613 Glencoe Way (818) 548-2187
For questions regarding cooling stations, contact Glendale’s Community Services and Parks Department at (818) 548-2000.
For children, the splash pads at Cerritos Park and Pacific Park are open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Sunday, Sept. 18.