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Another Heat Wave Is Here. Will LA's Aging Power Grid Fare Better This Time?

Another round of blistering temperatures is settling in to Southern California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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It's going to be toasty this week in Los Angeles.

After the early-July heat wave that broke records -- and the power grid -- another round of blistering temperatures is settling in to Southern California Monday.

The dangerous heat is expected to last through Thursday, with temperatures hitting the low 90s on the coasts, up to 100 degrees for inland coastal communities and 100-110 degrees in the valleys and deserts.

Valley and interior areas, such as Woodland Hills and the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys, will be among the hardest hit, according to Robbie Munroe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

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"We won't see a whole lot of relief at night either in those areas with lows only into the '70s and even into the 80s," he said.

Wednesday looks to be the hottest day of the week, according to the National Weather Service, with valley areas hitting the mid-to-upper 100s and downtown L.A. reaching the high 90s.

L.A. County's public health department also issued a heat alert for Monday and Tuesday. Cooling centers are open to the public this week throughout both the city and the county of L.A.

Many Angelenos may be thinking back to the last heat wave in which more than 100,000 utility customers lost power. What are the chances of that happening again?

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is making internal changes in an effort to avoid that, according to Chief Operating Officer Marty Adams.

"We've been keeping our crews on for 12-hour days since the last heat wave so we can continue to make hardened repairs and take care of other infrastructure needs that we've identified," Adams told KPCC's Take Two on Monday.

That's pretty much all LADWP can do on its end, Adams said, explaining that the problem was a long time coming.

"We've had decades in the past of really not doing enough for infrastructure replacement and keeping up with the increase in power demands," he said. "We are making progress, but it's a long-term deal to do such a thing."

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Adams says the DWP has invested a "couple billion" dollars in the last two to three years in infrastructure replacement, but he said people are plugging in a lot more stuff than they used to, like second refrigerators and more air conditioning units.

"Every year, we seem to set a new record for a peak power demand and we really have to -- not just replace infrastructure -- but also increase capacity," he said. But those changes won't be happening overnight.

According to an LADWP press release, electricity use earlier this month peaked at 6,256 megawatts -- a new record for a July day.

LAist has a list of heat hacks for SoCal residents looking to stay cool this week, including tips for how to spot the signs of dehydration and keeping your pets safe.

Take Two producer Austin Cross contributed to this story.

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