Power restored after blackouts ordered

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Sunday, January 21, 2001 CURRENT NEWS Updated Sunday, January 21, 2001 Power restored after blackouts ordered (AP) January 21, 2001 - Rolling blackouts briefly affected more than 50,000 customers in four Northern California cities. The Independent System Operator says power was off for about 20 minutes for some customers of municipal providers in Sacramento and Roseville, as well as the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts. It was restored about 3 p.m. An ISO spokeswoman was hopeful no more blackouts would be needed. She says as many as 75,000 customers could have been affected. The municipal providers were ordered to cut 125 megawatts.

The state has been on a Stage Three power alert since early Saturday and will continue through Monday.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), January 21, 2001


Parts of Sacramento lose power: Equipment malfunction in Oregon spurs outage

By Kevin Yamamura and Silvina Martínez Bee Staff Writers (Published Jan. 22, 2001) A small-scale power outage hit parts of Northern California as a cautionary move Sunday after an equipment malfunction threatened to force rolling blackouts.

In Sacramento County, the midafternoon outage led some Arden Fair mall merchants to shut their doors and affected 26,800 customers in sections of Sacramento, Orangevale, Citrus Heights, Fair Oaks and Folsom, said Gregg Fishman, a spokesman for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

Overall, 75,000 customers in four Northern California municipal power districts lost power for 20 minutes.

An equipment malfunction at a northern Oregon power generator was to blame. Because the mishap had begun to overload power lines, the state's Independent System Operator ordered brief outages to relieve stress on the lines until the equipment could be fixed.

The power loss came after rolling blackouts were instituted Wednesday and Thursday. Since then, California has remained under a Stage 3 emergency, which occurs when reserves drop below 1.5 percent.

That the latest incident came on a Sunday, when usage typically is at its lowest, shows how close to the margin California is functioning, ISO officials said.

And although Sunday's outage largely was due to an equipment failure, it would not have occurred if California had a healthy energy supply.

"If we were not under tight supply conditions and had normal water supply behind reservoirs, then we would have dispatched some extra hydroelectric power," said Jim Detmers, ISO managing operations director. "But depleted resources have made serious reductions in our ability to alleviate problems."

At Arden Fair, the problems led to shopping by flashlight and doors being shut.

Nearly 40 stores were forced to shut down after the outage affected the shopping center's north side. Metal cage doors blocked open displays, a rarity for a mall on a Sunday afternoon.

But other retailers, such as Nordstrom, opted to stay open. Rachel Haskell, who works at the makeup counter, was giving a makeover when the lights cut out.

"We just moved to an area where we get some sunlight and went on," she said. "We were very busy."

Though the store has a few emergency lights in addition to windows, the employees couldn't conduct cash transactions because registers failed.

Once the outage ended shortly after 3 p.m., stores resumed business as usual.

The Stage 3 alert is expected to continue through tonight, and Detmers said rolling blackouts remained a serious possibility during the morning and evening high-load periods.

Monday "is going to be a difficult day, just as last week was a difficult week," Detmers said.

Although the ISO said it expected one additional power generator to provide energy this week, the state also suffered a loss of hydroelectric capacity during Sunday's malfunction, Detmers said. To make up for what the state lost from the equipment failure, the ISO had to resort to using hydroelectric power earlier than normal Sunday afternoon.

In the wake of the Stage 3 warning and Sunday's events, ISO officials continued to urge conservation.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), January 22, 2001.

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