SDG&E expects to meet summer demand despite nuke outage

Summer typically means warmer weather and increased air conditioning use. This summer, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is reminding customers that, while adequate electricity supplies are lined up to meet customers’ energy needs, conservation and demand response will still be vital during extremely hot weather or an unplanned power plant outage or transmission line emergency.

“SDG&E has been working hard to plan for the summer to ensure that customers’ summer electricity needs are met,” said Jessie J. Knight, Jr., SDG&E’s chairman and chief executive officer. “When the Sunrise Powerlink is energized, this will help increase the local power supply and improve the situation in San Diego by increasing the amount of imports into the region.”

Despite having adequate electric resources, conditions are subject to change due to unexpected situations that may be out of our control. High air conditioning use during summer heat waves or electric transmission emergencies can have severe impacts on SDG&E’s ability to deliver power.

“Southern California faces a challenging electrical resource situation this summer because the region’s largest power plant, the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, will remain offline for most of the summer,” added Michael R. Niggli, SDG&E’s president and chief operating officer. “If we have a lengthy heat wave, we may have to call on customers to reduce their energy use. As a result, SDG&E is encouraging customers to make energy conservation a habit.”

The California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO), the agency responsible for managing the bulk of the state’s power grid, issued its 2012 Summer Assessment confirming adequate supplies for most of California. Over 283 megawatts (MW) of new generation resources were added to the ISO grid in the second half of 2011 with an estimated 926 MW coming on line by July 1, 2012. This will primarily be renewable generation such as solar and wind.

The ISO is also increasing demand response and conservation awareness, including bringing back the Flex Alerts public awareness campaign alerting customers when to conserve electricity.

“If the ISO issues a Flex Alert, we urge you to join our efforts to reduce stress on the local grid by cutting back on your electricity use in the late afternoon. Conserving on peak days will be essential,” said Steve Berberich, ISO president and chief executive officer.

SDG&E says conservation is always a good practice because it helps the grid and the environment while also helping customers to save money. SDG&E’s goal is to offer smart tools and resources that can help customers manage their electricity use.

Earlier this month, SDG&E announced the launch of Reduce Your Use rewards, a demand-response program for SDG&E’s residential and small business customers who are eligible to earn a bill credit for using less electricity on specific Reduce Your Use days. These Reduce Your Use days may be called on hot summer days when energy demand is high and will allow customers who sign up to receive notifications with time to plan ahead and take steps to save the most energy.

Also launching this summer is the SDG&E-sponsored San Diego Energy Challenge contest. Through this challenge, customers who live within the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) area can earn Reduce Your Use rewards by saving energy, while also earning points for the SDUSD middle school of their choice. Those who choose to participate in San Diego Energy Challenge also have the chance to earn individual prizes–including gift cards and tablet computers–and help their local SDUSD middle school compete for a chance to win a cash grant based on how much energy is saved.

“Programs like these are a great way to get San Diegans thinking about energy conservation,” said San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders. “Working together, we can lower energy demand on the hot, peak days and help avoid stress on the local electric grid.”