As California baked under record-high temperatures last Tuesday and the state’s residents turned up their air conditioners to cope, electricity consumption hit an all-time peak.

The record demand of more than 52,000 megawatts was experienced in the 80% of the state’s electric power system managed by the Independent System Operator and was a successful stress test for the grid.

Californians heeded pleas to minimize consumption in the all-important late afternoon and evening hours, thus averting rolling blackouts that grid managers had feared would be needed to avoid systemic collapse. Luck also played a role – no major power plant shutdowns – as did having a healthy amount of reserve generation.

CALmatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California's state Capitol works and why it matters. Dan Walters has been a journalist for nearly 60 years, spending all but a few of those years working for California newspapers.

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