| A Sunnyvale, California, resident takes a break while emptying the contents of his refrigerator which has been lying idle for the past two days due to the power shortage. (AP)
Sacramento (California), July 25 (AP): As the death toll from a scorching heat wave rose and record demand tested the state’s power supply, energy managers feared they may have to trigger rolling blackouts.
Rolling blackouts are controlled, temporary interruptions of electrical service initiated by a utility to meet heavy peak demands when there is an extreme deficiency in the supply of power.
The National Weather Service issued another excessive heat warning for today, with temperatures expected to reach as high as 44 degrees Celsius in the Los Angeles area.
Authorities were investigating at least 29 possible heat-related deaths since the heat wave set in on July 16.
Most were in the sizzling Central Valley, where temperatures have been in the triple digits and were forecast to top 38 degrees Celsius for a few more days.
“The intense heat pushed electricity use to 50,270 megawatts yesterday ' a record for California. Government agencies and businesses have helped the state avoid rolling blackouts so far. “We still have our guard up,” said Stephanie McCorkle, spokeswoman for the California Independent System Operator, which manages the state’s power grid.
The ISO yesterday declared a “Stage 2” emergency, which called for some businesses to reduce their power use in exchange for lower rates. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger also directed state agencies to reduce electricity use by 25 per cent by turning off unnecessary equipment.
Utilities in St Louis and New York were still labouring to restore power to thousands of customers whose electricity was knocked out last week by storms and equipment failures. More than 200,000 homes and businesses in the St. Louis area were without electricity yesterday.
In New York, thousands of residents entered their ninth day without electricity today, and a spokesman for utility company Consolidated Edison said they had no idea when service would be fully restored.