SAN DIEGO, June 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- 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.
On June 7, Southern California Edison (SCE), the majority owner and operator of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), announced that a decision was reached to permanently retire SONGS Units 2 and 3 and to seek approval to start the decommissioning activities for the entire facility. SDG&E has already made plans to meet our customers' energy needs safely and reliably this summer for the second straight summer without SONGS. Due to the fact that SONGS will be offline permanently, the regional electric resource situation will face some challenges.
As the weather warms up, energy use typically increases due to increased use of air conditioning. Despite having adequate electric resources, conditions may change anytime due to unexpected situations that may be out of SDG&E's control. High energy use during summer heat waves or electric transmission emergencies can have severe impacts on SDG&E's ability to deliver power. "While SDG&E has lined up the electric resources necessary to supply our customers with enough power this summer, in the event of an extended heat wave, we expect that we will need to ask customers to reduce their energy use," said Jessie J. Knight, Jr., SDG&E's chairman and CEO. "Helping our customers use less energy is in everyone's best interest to save money, to protect the environment, and to ensure future generations have access to much needed energy supply. SDG&E encourages customers to use energy wisely and to conserve whenever they can to help keep energy bills as low as possible, especially as the warmer summer months approach."
In 2012, SDG&E completed the Sunrise Powerlink, which has greatly increased reliability, allowed renewable development in Imperial Valley to flourish and increased Southern California's ability to import power. In addition, SDG&E has completed several transmission upgrade projects that will strengthen the system and assist in voltage support in the absence of SONGS.
The California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO), responsible for managing the bulk of the state's power grid, recently issued its 2013 Summer Assessment confirming adequate supplies for most of California. The assessment identified local reliability concerns for southern Orange and San Diego Counties during extensive heat waves as a result of the absence of power from San Onofre. An estimated 51,068 MW of power plant capacity should be available this summer within the ISO grid, which includes 2,502 MW of new generation that came online between June 1, 2012, and April 1, 2013. An additional 891 MW was energized as of this month. The new power supply sources are comprised of 24 percent wind and solar power.
The ISO is also continuing demand response and conservation awareness, and is asking consumers to watch for the Flex Alert conservation campaign on TV and radio again this summer, which will alert customers when to conserve electricity.
"SDG&E customers are encouraged to watch for Flex Alerts this summer and help alleviate stress on the local grid by reducing energy use during key hours. Conserving on these key days will be essential," said Eric Schmitt, ISO vice president of operations.
Last year, SDG&E announced the launch of Reduce Your Use rewards, a demand-response program for SDG&E's residential customers who are eligible to earn a bill credit for using less electricity on specific days. These Reduce Your Use days may be called on hot summer days when energy demand is high. SDG&E residential customers are encouraged to set up email or text alerts so that they can be notified the day before a "Reduce Your Use" day and get notified when energy-saving results are available online the next day. In 2012, results showed that customers who signed up for Reduce Your Use alerts saved more energy than those who did not, reducing by about five percent on average.
"At SDG&E, we are working hard to provide customers with smart energy solutions to reduce their energy and start saving money on energy bills today," said Michael R. Niggli, SDG&E's president and chief operating officer.
SDG&E is focused on helping educate customers to make smarter energy decisions and providing tools and resources that can help them manage their electricity use and save money. By signing up for My Account through SDG&E's website, customers can access the Energy Management Tool, which helps them manage their energy use by providing daily updates on how and where they use energy the most. A video overview of the My Account tools is available on SDG&E's YouTube channel.
SDG&E is also working with the California Public Utilities Commission to ensure that customers understand the importance of conserving energy and have access to the tools that will help reduce strain on the grid and lower their bills.
"As summer approaches, we thank all customers who are participating in the state's demand response and conservation programs, which help to relieve stress on the electricity system," said Commissioner Catherine J.K. Sandoval of the California Public Utilities Commission. "I am pleased that both traditional and new approaches to reach diverse communities, and consideration of language and digital access needs, are being utilized with good success."
During the warmer weather ahead, SDG&E recommends these tips to save on energy use and costs, and reduce impact on the grid during high-demand days:
- Set your A/C to 78 F between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.
- Use fans. Use a ceiling or portable fan instead of A/C.
- Power down equipment. Unplug TV, cable, DVD or gaming devices when idle or use a smart power strip.
- Change filters regularly. Make sure the filter in your central A/C is clean to help it run more efficiently.
- Install weather stripping. Keep cool air in with weather stripping on doors/windows.
- Use a pool or spa cover. Covers can reduce heat loss by up to 90%.
- Switch off and replace. Turn lights off when you leave a room and replace regular bulbs with CFLs.
- Filter pools and spas in the early morning or after the sun goes down.
- Install window coverings. Install shade trees, awnings or blinds over brightest windows.
- Monitor your energy use. Check out Energy Charts, a new online tool through My Account.
For more energy-saving tips to use throughout the year visit www.sdge.com/save-money or call (800) 411-7343.
SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and more than 860,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The utility's area spans 4,100 square miles. SDG&E is committed to creating ways to help customers save energy and money every day. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego. Connect with SDG&E's Customer Contact Center at 800-411-7343, on Twitter (@SDGE) and Facebook.
SOURCE San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)