A punishing heat wave is baking the Western U.S., threatening to set records in California and forcing Texans to conserve electricity to stave off blackouts.

Temperatures will top 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) from Montana to Southern California Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. Dallas will be a muggy 99.

“These are really hot temperatures, and there is really no break for the potential record heat until Sunday,” said Bob Oravec, a forecaster with the U.S. Weather Prediction Center.

The searing heat is marking the first heat-related stress tests of the year for U.S. power grids loom as a historic drought grips the western half of the nation. It comes 10 months after California resorted to rolling blackouts last summer, briefly plunging more than a million people into darkness. In February, much of Texas was left without power for days during a frigid winter storm that paralyzed power plants and left more than 100 people dead.

While California officials said they are confident they will keep the lights on this week, those in Texas say it will be a day-by-day struggle to keep the system running. The state’s grid operator is asking residents to conserve power because generating plants with 12.2 gigawatts of capacity — enough to power about 2.4 million homes — are down for repairs, raising the specter of blackouts.

Texas grid operators are struggling to determine why so many plants are unexpectedly breaking down. The number of generators out of commission is triple what officials expect for this time of year.


“This is very concerning,” Warren Lasher, a senior director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said during a briefing Monday. “It’s not clear why we are seeing so many units offline.”

Texas lawmakers recently approved overhauls to stabilize its power market. Measures included requiring power plants ensure they can operate in extreme cold and provisions for state-backed financial assistance to the grid operator as well as utilities hit by soaring wholesale electricity prices.

“Everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid in Texas,” Republican Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters last week while signing the legislation into law.

The generators out of service include one of two units at the 2.3-gigawatt Comanche Peak nuclear plant near Dallas, which was taken offline over the weekend following a fire at the main transformer, according to Vistra Corp., which owns the plant.

Adam Sinn, owner of power-trading firm Aspire Commodities LLC, said the number of power plants out of service was unacceptable. “This is not a sustainable situation,” he said. “Texans deserve answers.”

In addition to the scorching temperatures, overnight lows in many areas remain extraordinarily high. That keeps pressure on power suppliers, as well as often raising the risks for people and plants.The overnight low in Las Vegas will be in the 90s and in the 80s in Phoenix, Oravec said. In Death Valley in California, highs will likely reach 125 degrees this week, falling only to 99 at night.

Read More: Blackouts Threaten U.S. West This Summer as Heat Awaits

In the West, heat warnings and watches from Phoenix to Northern California will be in place through Saturday evening, the National Weather Service said Tuesday. Temperatures in California’s Central Valley could rise to 113 between Thursday and Saturday. Parts of Arizona could hit 118.

California has ordered utilities to line up extra power supplies and giant batteries to prepare for this summer, but officials warn the system could still face shortfalls.

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