Calif. grid operator warns of possible afternoon blackouts

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California grid operators warn of possible afternoon blackouts

JENNIFER COLEMAN, Associated Press Writer

Monday, May 7, 2001, 2001 Associated Press

URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2001/05/07/state1343EDT0167.DTL&type=news

(05-07) 12:18 PDT SACRAMENTO (AP) -- California grid operators were able to avoid rolling blackouts Monday morning by asking large commercial power users to scale back their electricity use.

Officials with the California Independent System Operator warned, though, that the state was entirely dependent on imports to make it through the hottest part of the day.

`If imports stay where they are, we'll be OK for the rest of the day,'' said Jim McIntosh, ISO director of operations. ``It's the first day of what will be many this summer.''

An early heat spell and a large number of power plants off-line for pre-summer maintenance led California's grid operators to declare a Stage Two alert Monday morning when reserves fell to 5 percent.

At 11 a.m., grid officials were prepared to order blackouts, but saw enough response to their call for voluntary cutbacks to head off blackouts, he said.

ISO officials urged conservation Monday morning because high temperatures in California and the Southwest were pushing up power demands.

``Tonight, the lights are going to come on and that's another 1,000 megawatts that I'm not sure I know how I'm going to supply,'' McIntosh said.

A Canadian supplier had unexpectedly pulled about 1,000 megawatts early Monday, but then agreed to supply it by midmorning, he said. In addition, several key power plants were closed for pre-summer maintenance, said Lorie O'Donley, spokeswoman for the ISO, which manages the state's power grid. Those plants normally would provide enough power for about 9.4 million homes.

Among the plants down for repairs are four nuclear power plants, she said. Tight electricity supplies and high demand led to two days of rolling blackouts January 17 and 18 in Northern California. The ISO ordered statewide blackouts March 19 and 20 due to scarce power supplies.

Besides the plants that are down for maintenance, about 2,000 megawatts from alternative generators were also unavailable, O'Donley said. Those generators, which use solar, wind or co-generation to produce power, say they're owed about $1 billion by Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

PG&E spokesman Ron Low said the utility asked large industrial users to voluntarily cut back on their power use Monday. The utility also called on some participants in the ``interruptible'' program. Those commercial customers get reduced rates in return for reducing their electricity usage when the ISO declares a Stage Two alert. Low estimated that could trim 60 megawatts, or enough power for approximate 45,000 homes.

On the Net:

The California Independent System Operator: www.caiso.com

2001 Associated Press

-- Swissrose (cellier3@mindspring.com), May 07, 2001

Answers

It looks like our Gov., Gray Davis, will become the first billion dollar man in politics. Already, just 5 months into the year, he has cost we Californians $5.6 billion, by day trading himself, when he should have let the utilities slip into bankruptcy in Jan.

Yet, the environmentalists still love this guy. I wonder, come Fall, if the masses of Californians will share that feeling.

-- JackW (jpayne@webtv.net), May 07, 2001.


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