Energy officials predict that the L.A. Basin could enforce rolling blackouts this summer in order to stretch the meager electrical supply. Unfortunately, almost none of Los Angeles County’s 95 cooling centers are equipped with backup generators to keep the air conditioning running during these established electrical outages.
“We only have two of our cooling centers that have standby power in place, so that’s a problem,” said L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis. “We need to do more with respect to our cooling centers, especially in the [community and senior services] facilities where we have seniors.”
Air conditioners use about 5% of all the electricity produced in the United States. In an energy crisis like the one Southern California is currently experiencing, air conditioning is not always a luxury that can be sustained.
Officials say that the county is likely to know a day in advance which areas might experience power outages, and that these blackouts will last one hour at a time in the Southern California Edison service area and two hours at a time in the L.A. Department of Water and Power service area.
Fortunately for Los Angeles residents, the situation is quite different. In fact, any city building that has air conditioning can be used as a cooling center.
Moreover, the city has backup generators available to keep most of these buildings cool during rolling blackouts, and some facilities are likely to extend their hours to the public during heat waves.
Not far from Los Angeles, the people of Long Beach are currently learning what it’s like to endure a heat wave without the sweet relief of air conditioning. Because the people living on the coast often rely on the ocean breeze to stay cool, most residents have never had the need to purchase air conditioning systems.
But in the intense heat wave currently plaguing the Southwest, Long Beach residents are finding little relief in the rare ocean breeze. “It’s stifling, it’s miserable,” said resident Alexander Rosie. “Today I was going to get one of those portable roll-away [fans] but they were all sold out so I’ll be dealing with the heat for a while.”
It is especially difficult for the people of Long Beach to find a cool place to find relief. The closest cooling center is about a 20 minute drive away in San Pedro, and that’s without taking L.A.’s infamous traffic into consideration.