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Heat waves, drought strain electrical grids and fuel wildfires in US West

•, by: Nolan Barton

Heatwaves are becoming more frequent, lasting longer and occurring earlier in the year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on June 17 signed an emergency proclamation allowing power plants to increase operations if needed to meet electricity demands.

The California Independent System Operator (California ISO), which runs the state's energy grid, also issued a so-called Flex Alert. The alert encourages people to set thermostats to 78 degrees, avoid using large appliances, close drapes and blinds, turn off unnecessary lights and use fans.

Elliot Mainzer, California ISO's chief executive officer, said last week that the grid was stable and there was no expectation of rotating power outages, but that could change as temperatures spike in the coming days.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the Lone Star State's electric grid, also called on residents to conserve electricity, asking them to set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, turn off lights and avoid using large appliances.