Lengthy Heat Wave Strains Power Grid, Transportation

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SACRAMENTO -- Several days of blistering, triple digit heat has put a strain on the power grid and our infrastructure.

Caltrans spokesperson Dennis Keaton says a wetter-than-average winter coupled with intense heat has made roadway weaker.

Sunday, four lanes of Highway 50 in West Sacramento were closed because the roadway was buckling. Officials believe this was heat related.

Caltrans crews are working to repair a number of issues on highways and side streets. Most of the work is being done between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., and overnight starting at 9 p.m., so workers aren't out during the hottest hours.

It's not just the roads themselves that are suffering. The California Highway Patrol says tire blowouts are common because of the hot pavement. CHP Officer Michael Bradley says Monday's grass fire along Business 80 was caused by an overheated engine that caused a chain reaction that eventually spread to the grass.

Bradley said being up to date on car maintenance helps tremendously in the heat, including having appropriate tire pressure and parking your car in the shade.

California ISO Issues Flex Alert

The California Independent System Operator is asking for energy conservation between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Easy ways to conserve energy is to set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher and turning off unnecessary lights and appliances.

"Yes it is different this year. It's hotter. It's a longer, prolonged heat wave. It's hotter on the coast," Cal ISO spokesperson Steven Greenlee said.

Since last year, California's grid has had some upgrades -- including 2,000 more megawatts in solar power.

The strain can also be troublesome to transformers.

"So this morning, it was a big, loud popping bang," Julian Dixon said.

A transformer behind Dixon's house exploded early Tuesday. The shower of sparks started a small fire at the Kindercare next door. No one was hurt.

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