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100-Degree Heat Forces Blackouts in California

Another day of record-breaking heat puts more stress on California's already stressed power grid. Even as businesses and the public try to conserve, there's still a chance that power regulators will be forced to call for rolling blackouts.

California has suffered through more than a week of triple-digit temperatures. In Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley, one community saw thermometers hit 119 degrees, an all-time record.

Temperatures like that, combined with unusually high humidity and very little night-time cooling, have left much of California feeling more like Texas. Statewide, at least 30 deaths have been linked to the heat over the past week and a half. In central California, where daytime highs have exceeded 110 degrees, Fresno County authorities counted a dozen victims, most of them elderly.

The danger rises with the possibility of widespread power outages, as air conditioners and fans push the state's power grid to the brink. Thousands of Californians, from one end of the state to the other, have already lost electricity -- some for a few hours, some for days.

California hasn't seen a kilowatt crunch like this since the infamous power crisis of 2000, which was a driving force behind the recall of then-Gov. Gray Davis.

In the years since, the state has dramatically increased its supply of electricity. But the demand for power has also soared, as thousands of new homes and business have sprung up -- many of them in the desert. Many of the new houses are energy efficient, but they're also large, and crammed with energy-sucking appliances and gadgets.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.