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Sizzling Heat Wave Puts Stress on Energy Grid, Consumers Urged to Conserve Power

power grid (Adobe stock image)

Record-breaking heat is affecting millions of people in the West with some cities expected to see triple-digit temperatures this week.

The sizzling heat wave stretches from Los Angeles to Omaha as meteorologists warn up to 50 million people to prepare for bouts of excessive heat.

The massive heat dome sent temperatures soaring to 125 degrees in Death Valley, California on Wednesday evening. That city is living up to its name as record highs this week are expected to flirt with the 134-degree record set back in 1931.

Power companies are urging residents to scale back energy consumption through Friday.

"Start thinking about things that you do that use a lot of electricity that you can move to different parts of the day so maybe you're running your dishwasher later in the evening or earlier in the day, same with the washing machine and dryer," said Denny Boyles with Pacific Gas & Electric.

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A similar situation in Texas where the power grid is again under strain following February's deadly winter storm that led to power outages across the state and killed 151 people.

With the heat index expected to top 100 degrees this week, grid managers are trying to avoid rolling blackouts again – so they're urging folks to conserve power, especially in the late afternoon between 3 pm to 7 pm.

Houston resident Paula Than briefly lost power after some electrical equipment failed.

"It's frustrating especially when I'm working from home. I have a dog who needs power, so it's very frustrating," said Than.

In Utah, Salt Lake City set a record 107 degrees on Tuesday. The National Weather Service says it was the highest temperature ever set in any month of the year in the last 147 years.

At least eight states from California to Montana are under excessive heat watches right now.

"I can't stand it," said Ronnie Yeskel, a Sherman Oaks, CA, resident. "I'm from the East Coast – get me some rain, this is not for me."

The record-busting heat is baking the U.S. Southwest up into parts of Montana and Wyoming, with several cities seeing temperatures climbing near or above 110 degrees.

The extreme heat is being blamed for at least 28 large fires in eight western states. And a large swath of the West faces dangerous drought conditions.

Temperatures in the West are expected to remain high between now and the end of June.

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