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Solar Eclipse Will Impact State Power Grid

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) -- Operators of California's utility power grid have been preparing for August's total solar eclipse for months.

Steven Greenlee works for California ISO - an independent operator of the states high-voltage grid. He says his organization is predicting a lose 6,000 megawatts of power during the eclipse.

"For us it's going to be a challenge," he said. "It's going to be a busy day behind the scenes."

To put Greenlee's prediction into content. One megawatt will power about 1,000 homes so during the eclipse the grid will lose the equivalent of the power needed for 600,000 homes.

But he adds that California utility customers will likely not even notice a difference.

"As the eclipse is occurring and the solar energy being produced by our energy plants is going down, we then have to bring up other generation plants in order to make up for that lost generation," he said.

Jonathan Tudor from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District said the mid-morning timing of the eclipse will also help. If it was later in the day, electrical demand would be higher in the Central Valley from the use of air conditioners.

"If it was at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m., air conditioners are ramping up then it would be a bigger issue potentially but because it's in the morning demand is not super high," he said.

Greenlee added that if the loss does become alarming, his organization will issue a flex alert and have everyone cut back on their power usage.

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