How Flex Alerts Are Affecting San Diego Businesses

NBC Universal, Inc.

A flex alert is in place once again for San Diegans, but this time it started at 3 p.m. and will go until 10 p.m. That's prime hours for most restaurants and bars, especially on the first game of the NFL Season Kick-Off. 

A flex alert is issued when hot weather results in the overuse of electricity. For some, it can be easier to cut back on the use of home appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, and use of air conditioning, but for businesses, it can be challenging. 

"We haven’t done anything differently," Ted Semprini, owner of Players Sports Grill, told NBC7. 

Inside his restaurant, fans were blowing and the air conditioning was on. It's two ways Semprini says he is trying to keep his customers and staff comfortable during a heat wave. 

"We’re not doing anything maliciously to go against SDG&E’s request or the state’s request, we’re just doing what we have to do to maintain," he said.

According to SDG&E, some businesses can voluntarily be under the Critical Price Peak bracket, which will give customers a discount on their bills during the year. However, during events like flex alerts, SDG&E says that electric use during these peak events will be charged at a rate that is much higher than normal rates. Friday, customers under this bracket aren't expected to face higher rates, according to SDG&E.

While Semprini doesn't fall under this category, he says that he did see messaging from the electric company encouraging customers to conserve energy during the alert. 

Donald Smith, the grill's manager, says the heat has been unbearable, but Players is a place people have been coming to cool off. 

”I mean this is the time people get off work and they expect to go somewhere when they go off work. People work a long day and they expect to go somewhere where there’s comfort," Thomas said. 

It's where customers like Mark Ball find comfort in these sweltering conditions. 

Typically, he would cool off from the sea breeze near his place at the coast, but he's finding getting out of the house is the best way for him to cool off. 

"Being able to come in some place with air conditioning has kind of been my go-to. Just to pop in here, go to a movie or someplace the AC is working," Ball said.

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