California power prices surged more than 10-fold : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

[Fair Use: For Educational and Research Purposes Only] Top World News Wed, 14 Jun 2000, 7:14pm EDT California Hit by Record Temperatures, Power Prices (Update2) By Christopher Martin

San Francisco, June 14 (Bloomberg) -- California power prices surged more than 10-fold as a heat wave caused the state's largest utility to cut power to some customers and to warn others to reduce demand or face blackouts.

Temperatures in the San Francisco Bay Area are forecast to climb to a high of 110 degrees Fahrenheit and may break records reached yesterday throughout Northern California.

Electricity prices on the California Power Exchange rose to as much as $663 a megawatt-hour for the hottest hours of the day, short of the $750 price cap imposed by state regulators. For the 12 daytime hours, utilities paid as much as $464 a megawatt-hour, more than 10 times the $45.45 average.

``Northern California is hotter than it's been in 35 years and we're in a tight situation,'' said Patrick Dorinson, a spokesman for the California Independent System Operator, which runs the power grid. ``We're emphatically asking consumers to conserve.''

PG&E Corp.'s Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the state's largest utility, cut power to some of its biggest customers as part of a voluntary program to reduce strain on the grid. Several power plant outages in the region, combined with the hot weather, have increased the possibility of blackouts.

If a power line fails or additional plants go down unexpectedly, a state emergency may be called and electricity could be cut to the hardest-hit areas. The state expected demand to rise to 45,329 megawatts this afternoon, short of last July's record peak of 45,884.

Power Warning

California's grid operator warned last night the state had less than 7 percent more power than needed to meet demand. The state agency asked people to voluntarily reduce air-conditioner use and suggested other ways to consume less power during the hottest hours of the day.

In May, utilities cut power to some of their largest customers as a heat wave brought record temperatures and strained the state's power systems. With no new power-plant capacity expected until 2002 and demand rising at as much as 6 percent a year, California faces two summers of power-use restrictions.

-- Martin Thompson (, June 14, 2000

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