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Anaheim Power Official Says Outages Still a Threat

Utilities: Department heads are told that blackouts remain a possibility if the weather stays hot. August 24, 2000

By FELIX SANCHEZ The Orange County Register ANAHEIM -- Rolling blackouts across California are likely if another heat wave sends power use spiraling, says the head of the Anaheim Public Utilities Department.

Edward Aghjayan, general manager of Orange County's only city-operated power provider, also says he doesn't understand how the state has let the situation reach the point at which pockets of customers could see their electricity intentionally cut to keep the state's power grid running.

"I've never hit a switch (to cut power) where I didn't have to,'' Aghjayan told more than 100 public and private utility department heads from across Anaheim gathered for the annual Power Watch 2000 & Beyond briefing at the Anaheim Hilton and Towers on Wednesday morning.

The Independent System Operator, a private agency that manages the state's power grid, has the authority to order rolling blackouts to keep the grid from collapsing because of power demands.

Such a Stage 3 alert could happen once or twice in the next month if temperatures rise again, Aghjayan said.

The order to cut off power almost happened this month, when the agency realized it would be short 1,800 megawatts of electricity. In a conference call with the agency, Aghjayan said, he heard the desperation as officials bought power generation wherever they could, including from Anaheim's power surplus.

"I think we'll all feel better around Oct. 1," Aghjayan said.

There have been 15 Stage 2 alerts since May. The alerts call for voluntary reduced power among big users and consumers.

The state has never had a Stage 3 alert, with one-hour rolling blackouts randomly selected to boost power to build available megawatts to needed levels.

-- (, August 24, 2000

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