Modesto-area utilities say they can take the heat
By: By Marijke Rowland
Published: Mon, 07/09 @ 10:51PM
Hot times coming, but valley utilities say they won't sweat power demand
This week's streak of 100-degree days should be business as usual for Northern San Joaquin Valley energy providers.
Temperatures are expected to stay near the century mark before dropping a few degrees this weekend, sending energy use soaring and people searching for cool relief. Still, the hot weather shouldn't have area electric utilities breaking a sweat.
Modesto Irrigation District spokeswoman Melissa Williams said even with the increase related to the heat and seasonal crop harvest, there should be no need for energy restrictions.
"We have all of our generators and power supply resources in good order," Williams said. "In the MID area, we don't anticipate any changes. We've just been spoiled so far with a cooler summer."
National Weather Service meteorologist Craig Shoemaker said that despite the upcoming spate of 100-plus days in valley, there are no heat advisories scheduled in the Modesto area. He said overnight lows should fall to the 60s.
"It'll be cooling off quite a bit, or at least to a reasonable degree, at night," he said. "You need low temperatures to be 75 degrees or warmer for advisories. But it'll still be pretty warm in the evenings and, of course, the day."
No restrictions at TID either
Officials for the neighboring Turlock Irrigation District also expect to be able to handle the increased energy needs of hard-working air conditioners this week without any restrictions for customers.
"We're confident we'll have the resources to meet the load," said TID spokesman Herb Smart. "That's given there are no major problems statewide. But we have the generators to meet the load here."
Modesto Regional Fire Authority Interim Chief Gary Hinshaw said there are no plans to open cooling centers throughout Stanislaus County. Those would be opened only if the National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for the area, he said.
But, he said, people still should take precautions and try to find cool shelter during this week's high temperatures.
"Right now, we're in normal summer mode, but everyone should be cautious," said Hinshaw, who also serves as the assistant director of the county's Office of Emergency Services. "We encourage people to get out to the mall or enjoy other air-conditioned areas."
More problems to south
Other parts of the state, particularly those farther south, could face more heat-related problems as the mercury rises.
The city of Merced will have its cooling center open today through Thursday. The public can beat the heat at the center from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Sam Pipes Room of the Merced Civic Center, 678 W. 18th St.
Power use during the week should peak at about 625 megawatts, said the MID's Williams. Energy consumption by large agricultural industries during the peach and tomato harvest will add about 20 megawatts to usage. For a summer day under 100 degrees, the MID's average peak is about 565 megawatts.
At the TID, the peak this year was 528 megawatts, which was set June 1. The load forecast for Monday was near 550 megawatts, which should increase during the week.
"As the temperatures rise, obviously our load is going to rise," Smart said. "A great deal of the planning goes toward the summer months for us. It's something we prepare for. So it's business as usual for us."
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2284.