Electric prices in the U.S. West soared to record highs as California consumers prepared for more outages on Monday after the grid operator ordered utilities to cut power over the weekend to reduce system strain during a brutal heat wave.
The California ISO, which operates the grid for much of the state, told utilities late Friday to start rotating outages that left more than 400,000 homes and businesses sweltering for about an hour each as air conditioning demand outstripped available generation resources.
The last time the ISO asked utilities to impose rotating outages was in 2001 when several energy companies were accused of manipulating the power market to cause prices to spike and electric supplies to run artificially short.
Rotating outages this weekend affected around 220,000 PG&E Corp customers, over 130,000 customers of Edison International’s Southern California Edison and over 58,000 customers of Sempra Energy’s San Diego Gas & Electric.
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The ISO urged consumers to keep conserving electricity through at least Wednesday when the weather is expected to start to cool.
Meteorologists at AccuWeather forecast high temperatures would reach the 90s Fahrenheit (35 Celsius) in the biggest cities in Northern and Southern California through the middle of the week. That is more than 10 degrees F higher than normal for this time of year.
The ISO forecast demand would reach 49,532 megawatts (MW) on Monday, which would easily top 2019’s 44,301 MW high but remain short of the all-time high of 50,270 MW in 2006.
Power prices for Monday at the Palo Verde hub in Arizona rose to a record $350.50 per megawatt hour (MWh), according to data on Refinitiv Eikon going back to 2010.
In California, prices at SP-15 in the southern part of the state rose to $270.75 per MWh, their highest since August 2018.