Californians were told Wednesday not to charge their electric vehicles during peak hours, just days after the state said it would stop selling gas-powered cars, as the aging electricity grid struggles with a fearsome heatwave.
Temperatures as high as 112 degrees Fahrenheit (44 degrees Celsius) were forecast in some Los Angeles suburbs as a huge heat dome bakes a swathe of the western United States.
The sweltering weather will put huge demands on the already-stretched power grid, especially when people crank up the air conditioners during the broiling hours after work and school.
“Consumers are urged to conserve power by setting thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, if health permits, avoiding use of major appliances and turning off unnecessary lights,” said the California Independent System Operator, which runs the state’s power grid.
Between 4:00 pm and 9:00 pm, “they should also avoid charging electric vehicles.”
“Reducing energy use during a Flex Alert can help stabilize the power grid during tight supply conditions and prevent further emergency measures, including rotating power outages.”
California’s power companies routinely ask households to limit their usage during the so-called “shoulder hours,” when rooftop solar panels stop producing electricity but demand remains high because of still-elevated temperatures.
The call to limit electric vehicle charging comes a week after state regulators banned the sale of new petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles from 2035.
All but a handful of SUVs, cars and light trucks will have to produce zero tailpipe emissions, with only highly efficient plug-in hybrids permitted to burn fossil fuels.
The move was hailed as a game-changer for the EV industry because of the size of California’s auto market and the potential it has to set national, and even international, standards.
– ‘Dangerously hot’ –
Wednesday’s plea to conserve power was greeted with derision on Twitter, where some said it was proof the state had not thought through its green agenda.
“Perhaps we should figure out how to fix our electric grid before we outlaw gas cars…just a thought,” tweeted @AerysGG
“So………this is what they want. Walking? Hitchin’ A Ride?? Moving to a more reasonable state??” tweeted @cinda_scheef
In response to soaring power demands, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency that temporarily removes pollution controls on fossil fuel power plants to allow them to generate more electricity.
He pointed to the punishing drought in the US West that has crippled hydroelectric plants, and noted the direct effect that climate change is having on day-to-day lives.
“Energy reliability becomes more and more challenging… because demand increases at the same time supply decreases,” he said.
He also called on households to do their part “to help us get through the next week or so, to turn up a little bit the thermostat at home to 78 degrees, try to pre-cool earlier in the day; try not to use too much electricity… between 4:00 pm and 9:00 pm.”
The National Weather Service has issued an “excessive heat warning” for most of California, as well as parts of Arizona and Nevada.
“Dangerously hot conditions expected… until Sunday evening,” the NWS said.
“A prolonged period of excessive heat will significantly increase the potential for heat related illnesses, particularly for those working or participating in outdoor activities.”
“Those without access to adequate or reliable cooling or hydration will be at most risk, but much of the population could be susceptible to impacts as well,” the NWS warned.
Nighttime temperatures are not expected to offer much relief, with lows struggling to get below 80 degrees Fahrenheit in many places.
It is not unusual for southern California to experience heat waves in September, but temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit are considered hot even for a place almost perpetually baked by sunshine.
The heat wave comes after swathes of the southwest were lashed with torrential rains over recent weeks.
Some areas, including the notoriously dusty Death Valley, suffered flooding, and one person died after being swept away in Zion National Park in Utah.
Scientists say global warming, which is being driven chiefly by humanity’s use of fossil fuels, is making natural weather variations more extreme.
Heat waves are getting hotter and more intense, while storms are getting wetter and, in many cases, more dangerous.
Apple wins 728-mn-euro cut to France antitrust fine
A French court on Thursday slashed more than 700 million euros from a record 1.1-billion-euro fine imposed on US tech giant Apple in 2020, sources close to the case told AFP.
France’s competition authority levied the fine — its biggest ever — after concluding that the firm squeezed independent sellers of Apple products as it tried to push buyers towards its own stores and preferred retailers.
But the Paris appeal court revised the decision and knocked 728 million from the fine, meaning Apple still faces having to pay 370 million euros.
Apple says the fine is unfair and told AFP the whole complaint should be quashed.
“We consider that the decision should have been annulled in its entirety and plan to appeal to the French supreme court,” the firm told AFP in a statement.
“The decision concerns practices that go back more than 10 years and that even the French competition authority has recognised as no longer being in force.”
The initial case was made up of three linked complaints — one was dismissed by the appeals court and two were upheld.
Sources close to the case, who did not want to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, confirmed the amounts and the details of the decision.
The Paris appeals court told AFP the ruling would be made public on Friday.
Former Uber security chief convicted in hack cover-up: reports
A jury on Wednesday found Uber’s former security chief guilty of federal crimes for covering up a massive hack that compromised personal information of users and drivers, according to US media reports.
Joseph Sullivan was found guilty of obstructing the work of the Federal Trade Commission and of failing to let authorities know about a crime when he hid a 2016 hack instead of reporting it, according to news outlets.
Sullivan could be sentenced to prison time.
Sullivan sought to pay off the hackers by funneling money through a “bug bounty” program that rewards developers for revealing security vulnerabilities without doing any harm, according to the criminal complaint.
Uber paid the hackers $100,000 in bitcoin cryptocurrency in December 2016, and Sullivan wanted them to sign non-disclosure agreements promising to keep mum about the affair, prosecutors said.
Sullivan was Uber chief security officer from April 2015 to November 2017.
The criminal complaint maintains that Sullivan deceived Uber’s new chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, appointed in mid-2017 to replace Travis Kalanick, about the breach.
“Silicon Valley is not the Wild West,” US Attorney David Anderson for the Northern District of California said in a statement when the charges were filed.
“We will not tolerate corporate cover-ups. We will not tolerate illegal hush money payments.”
Two members of the Uber information security team who “led the response” that included not alerting users about the data breach were let go from the San Francisco-based company, according to Khosrowshahi.
The Uber chief said he had learned that outsiders broke into a cloud-based server used by the company for data and downloaded a significant amount of information.
Stolen files included names, email addresses and mobile phone numbers for millions of riders, and the names and driver license information of some 600,000 drivers, according to Uber.
Co-founder and ousted chief Kalanick was advised of the breach shortly after it was discovered, but it was not made public until Khosrowshahi learned of the incident, according to an AFP source.
Uber did not respond to a request for comment on the verdict.
Casey Ellis, founder and CTO at Bugcrowd, a San Francisco-based leader in crowd-sourced cybersecurity, said, “It’s a significant precedent that has already sent shockwaves through the CISO (chief information security officer) community.”
“It highlights the personal liability involved in being a CISO in a dynamic policy, legal, and attacker environment.”
Musk says Twitter has refused to suspend litigation on buyout
Elon Musk asked a US judge Thursday to suspend Twitter’s lawsuit over their troubled takeover negotiations after the embattled social media company balked at the Tesla’s chief’s demand to freeze the litigation.
Musk’s request comes two days after he revived his takeover plan. The unpredictable billionaire’s July withdrawal from the $44-billion transaction prompted Twitter to sue Musk over breach of contract in a Delaware court.
A trial is scheduled to start on October 17.
“There is no need for an expedited trial to order Defendants to do what they are already doing and this action is now moot,” said a filing prepared by Musk attorneys that alluded to his latest offer.
“Yet, Twitter will not take yes for an answer. Astonishingly they have insisted on proceeding with this litigation, recklessly putting the deal at risk and gambling with their stockholders interests.”
Musk on Tuesday sent a letter to Twitter reviving the $54.20-per-share offer under the condition that the Delaware court halt action in the lawsuit against him.
Twitter said Tuesday it expects to close the buyout deal at the $54.20 price in a statement that did not address Musk’s demands over freezing the litigation.
On Wednesday, Delaware Judge Kathaleen McCormick said she still planned to go ahead with the trial, noting that neither party had asked for a suspension.
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