Fires, Heatwave Spark California Power Emergency : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Wednesday September 13 8:12 PM ET Fires, Heatwave Spark California Power Emergency

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California power emergency escalated on Wednesday with some industrial and commercial customers cut off as scorching temperatures boosted demand and fires threatened three major transmission lines.

The California Independent System Operator (ISO), which operates most of the state's power grid, was forced to call a so-called stage two emergency.

The crisis came just the day after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) held hearings in San Diego as part of its investigation into skyrocketing electricity prices in California and reliability concerns.

Fires burning in the Castaic area, in Southern California, and the high Sierras east of Fresno, in Central California, led to the shut down of three major transmission lines which the ISO had been depending on to help meet loads bolstered by heavy use of air conditioners as much of the state baked.

In Palm Springs in southern California, temperatures rose to a high of 110 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday afternoon while triple digit temperatures were also reported in some valley communities surrounding Los Angeles.

A spokesman for utility Southern California Edison, which operates the lines, said they were automatically shut down when sensors detected the fires but no damage has been reported. All the lines are rated at 220 kilovolts.

SoCal Edison is a unit of Edison International (NYSE:EIX - news).

The stage two emergency, the 15th since May, was triggered when reserve power supplies fall below five percent of actual load on the system.

When electricity supplies dip this low, the ISO requests utilities interrupt service to those big industrial or commercial customers who buy their power at a discount on the understanding their service might be cut to avoid widespread blackouts caused by overloading the grid.

Rolling blackouts across the state would be ordered if a so-called stage three emergency were declared. That would be triggered if reserves fell below 1.5 percent.

Load on the California transmission system was 40,096 megawatts (MW) at 4:20 p.m. PDT just below the day's peak of 40,511 MW.

The state's power crisis has been caused partly by the nation's buoyant economy which has increased demand for power not just in California but also in the surrounding states.

California is heavily dependent on imports from other states but available supplies have shrunk rapidly as states such as Nevada and Arizona has seen those own needs rise.

There have also been no significant new power plants built in California during the last decade, partly due to uncertainly surrounding the deregulation of its electricity industry.

-- Martin Thompson (, September 13, 2000


They have had no significant new power plant construction for the past ten they've got some ten or twelve under construction, I understant....I wonder what will happen to these if they kill deregulation.

-- R2D2 (, September 13, 2000.

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