Californians were ordered not to charge their electric cars on Wednesday so as not to further strain an aging power grid, which has been strained by a feared heatwave.
• Also read: California plans to ban new gas-powered cars by 2035
Last week, the state announced that it would ban the sale of new gasoline engines from 2035.
Temperatures of up to 44 degrees were expected in the Los Angeles suburbs as a heat dome looms over the American West.
The muggy weather is expected to put pressure on an already strained power grid, particularly during the hottest hours when air conditioning, which is essential in the United States, is running at full blast.
“Consumers are being urged to reduce their energy use between the hours of 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., when the system is most heavily powered, as demand remains high and less solar power is available,” said the American Public Power Association, a body that represents utility companies .
The top three recommended actions: set the thermostat to 25°C or more, avoid using large appliances and charging electric vehicles, and turn off unnecessary lights, according to the organization.
Electricity is a sensitive issue for the state whose infrastructure is ailing.
Electricity companies regularly ask households to limit their consumption during certain hours when the solar panels stop producing electricity due to the heat while demand remains high.
But the call not to charge your electric car has been met with much derision on social media, while the state is promoting these types of vehicles.
“California just made electric vehicles mandatory and asked residents not to charge them between 4pm and 9pm?” Republican Senator Tom Cotton quipped on Twitter.
On Thursday, the Californian authorities announced that new cars sold should be “zero emissions” by 2035 at the latest.
The decision was seen as a turning point for the electric car industry, as California represents an important automotive market and potentially impacting national or international standards.
The US Weather Service (NWS) has issued an “excessive heat” warning for most of California and parts of Arizona and Nevada.
“Dangerously hot temperatures can be expected” by Sunday evening, the weather service warned of health risks from the heat wave.
“Those without access to adequate and reliable air conditioning and a source of hydration are most at risk, but a large proportion of the population is likely to suffer the effects.”
The night brings little peace, the temperatures do not drop below 26°C in many places.
Heat waves are not uncommon in Southern California in September, but temperatures above 37°C are considered very hot, even for an area known for its near-permanent sunshine.
This heatwave comes as large parts of the south-west of the country have recently been hit by rare-intensity thunderstorms and torrential rain.
The Death Valley desert was inundated and one person died after being swept away by a flood on Friday in Utah’s Zion National Park, famous for its red rock cliffs and canyons.
Scientists have been warning for years about the effects of global warming, which is caused in particular by the use of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases and which is now affecting millions of people.
Heat waves are becoming more extreme, while storms that were once rare weather events are becoming more intense and frequent.