LOS ANGELES - With potentially historic temperatures set to sear California through Labor Day weekend, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an emergency proclamation aimed at shoring up the state's energy capacity and staving off the kind of power outages and rolling blackouts that left tens of thousands of residents in the dark during the last massive heat wave.
Virtually all of California will be under an excessive heat watch or warning beginning Friday or Saturday and continuing through Sunday or Monday. Forecasters say temperatures are expected to climb 15 to 20 degrees above normal in some areas through the weekend - and warned that records will likely fall.
L.A. County health officials on Friday announced that an extreme heat warning will be in effect through Tuesday for the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys, as well as the eastern and western San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.
Newsom's proclamation is focused on keeping California's power grid operating at its peak. Specifically, it "permits power plants to generate more power by suspending certain permitting requirements, helping to alleviate the heat-induced demands on the state's energy grid."
The governor's declaration comes as some major utilities warn that the one-two punch of sweltering conditions and increased energy demand could stress the power grid to its limit, potentially resulting in outages.
"For this weekend, conservation is key," said Jim Hanggi, a spokesman for Southern California Edison.
The California Independent System Operator, which runs the power grid for most of the state, has already issued a statewide flex alert - calling for residents to voluntarily cut back their electricity consumption from 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday through Monday.
California ISO Vice President of Operations Eric Schmitt told reporters that while the last major heat wave saw rotating power outages hit the state on Aug. 14 and 15, "at this point, we are not forecasting any blackouts."
"As we get closer and closer to each day, we'll know better about the accuracy of our forecasts," he said during a briefing Thursday.
ISO officials cited several factors they hoped would help California avoid rolling blackouts this time around, including the flex alert, a previously issued "restricted maintenance" order requiring that planned routine outages be postponed and coordination with other state agencies "to encourage additional load conservation and make additional generation capacity available for the holiday weekend."