When the heat goes up turn down the power

By Mike Dinoffria, Special to the Daily Planet
Wednesday July 10, 2002

Utility supply, air quality are at risk 


High temperatures are driving people to crank up air conditioners, collectively tapping deep into the state’s power supply. 

Officials are asking the public to curtail electricity consumption because California power companies are in danger of having to buy energy from out of state. People should limit use of air conditioners and appliances – anything electrical other than lights and computers. This warning is effective until Thursday, when temperatures are expected to drop in Berkeley from the low 90s to the mid 80s, Pacific Gas and Electric spokesman Jason Alderman said. 

“Continued conservation is the key to success,” Alderman said. “Make sure the thermostat is set to 78 degrees or higher. And we are asking [energy consumers] to hold off on using appliances until after 7 p.m.”  

In addition to conserving energy, residents can help with air quality. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District warned of high levels of smog Tuesday and today.  

Although coastal winds helped keep air quality good in Berkeley this week, the surrounding areas were not as lucky. 

The air quality management district is asking residents to protect themselves on days like today, when readings of ground level ozone, or smog, are high. It can be harmful to people who inhale it. 

“Ozone is hard on the elderly, young people who exercise and asthmatics are very susceptible (to it),” said Will Taylor, public information officer for Bay Area Air.  

Smog levels were particularly high in Santa Clara County and the city of Livermore on Tuesday.  

Alderman said that now is a good time for people to participate in PG&E’s 20/20 rebate program. Users who reduced their usage by 20 percent compared to a year ago will get 20 percent off their current monthly bill. The program began July 1 and runs until the end of October.  

A high-pressure system covering the Western United States is responsible for the heat that has energy and air officials sweating. In Livermore, the thermometer touched 107.