Just before 5:30 p.m. local time, California’s power grid operator declared a maximum emergency, warning that a power outage was imminent. Then, at 5:48 p.m., the state’s Office of Emergency Management sent out a text alert to residents in certain counties asking them to conserve electricity if possible.
Within five minutes, the network emergency was almost completely gone. According to data from the California Independent Systems Operator, electricity consumption dropped by 1.2 gigawatts between 5:50 PM and 5:55 PM and continued to drop in the following hours.
But despite efforts, some cities apparently failed to get the message. So, officials of three cities in the San Francisco Bay Area – Alameda, Healdsburg and Palo Alto – reported on social networks that there were power outages that evening, which may have contributed to a sharp drop in demand.