Today could break the all-time California record for electricity usage : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Big users cut power as heat saps grid ENERGY: Today could break the all-time California record for electricity usage, officials say.

August 1, 2000

By KATE BERRY The Orange County Register

A sizzling heat wave strained California's already-tight power supply Monday, forcing thousands of consumers and businesses to cut back on electricity as officials warned that today could be the single biggest day of electricity consumption in California history.

"We just want to get through tomorrow," said Patrick Dorinson, a spokesman for the California Independent System Operator, which operates most of the state's strapped power system. "Summer is obviously the toughest time, and August is just starting."

A combination of factors contributed to Monday's crisis, including a heat wave in Western states that sapped out-of-state supplies, surging demand, and a dearth of new capacity. Temperatures soared in cities throughout California. Anaheim sweltered at 101 degrees while Sacramento hit 104.

The electricity crisis Monday lasted for just two hours. But it was the sixth to hit the state this year, compared with just one emergency in all of 1999.

The emergency comes as the state's experiment with deregulation reaches a crisis of its own. State officials are expected to vote today on a price cap on power, and regulators will consider proposals Thursday that would offer relief to consumers in San Diego and south Orange County whose electricity bills have doubled or tripled in the past month.

Edison asked 1,500 businesses, 125,000 residential customers and 420 agricultural firms to temporarily interrupt power. It was the first time Edison, the state's largest utility, was forced to appeal to every customer participating in the voluntary program that gives discounted rates in exchange for voluntary cutbacks when supplies are strained.

Electricity use is expected to peak at 46,245 megawatts today -- breaking the all-time record of 45,884 megawatts set on July 12, 1999.

-- Martin Thompson (, August 01, 2000


Calif. power emergency seen triggering blackouts Updated 3:49 PM ET August 1, 2000 PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - A stage-three power emergency is expected to be declared in California at about 1400 PDT/1700 EDT on Tuesday afternoon, federal power marketer Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) said in a statement. If the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which operates most of the state's power grid, declares a stage-three emergency, it will trigger rolling blackouts across the state.

The ISO has never before declared a stage-three emergency, which would be triggered by high temperatures and an electricity shortage in the state.

BPA, which markets power from massive federally owned hydropower dams in the Pacific Northwest, said it would do what it could to assist California and may itself declare an emergency to curtail certain fish operations.

"This emergency is very real. I have been assured it is a human health and safety issue. The elderly, sick and infants are particularly vulnerable in extreme temperatures when there are power failures," said BPA Administrator Judi Johansen.

((--Nigel Hunt, Los Angeles bureau + 1 213 955 6752))

-- PHO (, August 01, 2000.

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