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Californians Asked To Conserve Power As First Flex Alert Of The Year Issued

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If forecasts are correct, Tuesday will see the peak of the first heat wave of Summer 2017. And with the year's first heat wave comes the year's first flex alert—when operators of the state's electrical grid ask users to conserve energy in an attempt to avoid power outages.

The California Independent System Operator, which serves 80% of the state's energy consumers, expects grid usage to hit 47,000 megawatts between 2 and 9 p.m. on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Consumers are urged to conserve electricity especially during the late afternoon when air conditioners typically are at peak use," the California ISO stated in a press release. "Consumers can help avoid power outages by turning off all unnecessary lights, using major appliances before 2 p.m. and after 9 p.m., and setting air conditioners to 78 degrees or higher. ...During times of high temperatures, demand on the power grid can be strained, as air conditioner use increases."

"It's all temperature driven," Steven Greenlee, a spokesperson for the California ISO, told LAist. "Every degree change is an incremental amount of megawatt—so, one degree higher is several hundred megawatts more usage at the peak."

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On Monday, the heat in Lancaster broke a record at 110 degrees. Tuesday's high should hit 111 in Lancaster (though the record is a degree higher). In Palmdale, Tuesday should see a high of 110. Burbank is forecasted to hit 95 degrees on Tuesday, and downtown L.A. will hit 88. Along the coast, the heat at LAX will hit a high of 78 on Tuesday, and in Long Beach it should be about 87.

"Tuesday is the peak, of course," Bonnie Bartling, weather specialist with the National Weather Service, told LAist. "Wednesday should cool down anywhere from zero to two degrees, with much more appreciable cooling Thursday through Saturday. By Friday, the Valleys should be in the 80s to 90s, but there will still be some triple-degree highs around."

Will a projected degree or two drop in the temperatures help ease the state's grid, or will we see an extension of the flex alert? Greenlee said that the California ISO will be looking for the marine layer to return, an ocean breeze, or further cooling starting Thursday to determine if the flex alert can be lifted. "We can only tell the temperatures a few hours in advance. Things can change within 24 hours."

The County of Los Angeles Public Library has provided a list of cooling centers here for anyone seeking relief from the heat. You can also call 311 in the city of Los Angeles, or 211 in the county of Los Angeles for the list and additional information.