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Los Angeles Power Use Near Record as Heat Wave Prompts Warnings

By: Lynn Doan |

Southern California utilities including the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. asked customers to conserve power as a heat wave boosted demand to near-record levels.

Temperatures surged past 100 degrees Fahrenheit in some areas of Southern California, increasing the use of air conditioning and propelling power demand in LADWP’s territory to 6,052 megawatts at 2 p.m. local time, 125 shy of its record. Sempra Energy (SRE)’s SDG&E utility said it also expects the heat wave to raise demand to near-record levels.

Los Angeles has seen temperatures above 90 degrees for four days and the heat wave is expected to continue until later this week, according to AccuWeather.com. The surge in demand may raise power costs in a region already vulnerable to price spikes and power failures after the shutdown of Edison International’s (EIX) San Onofre nuclear power plant in 2012.

“Electricity demand by customers in Los Angeles is expected to peak at or above the all-time record today,” LADWP said in an e-mailed statement. “Less than 1,000 customers out of 1.4 million are without power citywide. However, with significant strain on the local neighborhood grids, additional localized outages are to be expected.”

Spot, on-peak power at the SP15 hub for Southern California gained $9.35, or 23 percent, to $50.83 a megawatt-hour at 4:12 p.m. local time, grid data compiled by Bloomberg show. Power at Northern California’s NP15 hub was up $7.93 to $49.15.

Electricity use statewide may exceed the summer’s previous peak of 44,200 megawatts, set on July 30, Edison International’s Southern California Edison utility said by e-mail.

Extra Demand

“We anticipate having an adequate supply of electricity,” Paul Grigaux, SoCalEd’s vice president of transmission, said by e-mail. “However, with more energy likely being used in the evenings, especially air conditioning, the extra demand can strain SCE’s equipment when it’s not given the opportunity to cool off.”

Edison opened an emergency activation center in Irwindale, California, that will remain open for the next few days to coordinate communications on power failures, monitor weather patterns and respond to trouble spots, the company said.