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Managers "cautiously optimistic" of no blackouts

Updated: Feb. 13, 2001 - 4:44 p.m.

California came close to rolling blackouts Tuesday evening, but the state's power managers said conservation may have come to the rescue.

An appeal for reduced electricity consumption apparently produced significant results along with finding more power supplies, said a spokesman for the California Independent System Operator, manager of most of the state electrical grid.

"Today, at 4:20 (p.m.), we are cautiously optimistic" about avoiding blackouts, said Patrick Dorinson, ISO director of communications.

The situation looked bad early Tuesday afternoon, he said. Several generating plants representing 10,000 megawatts in production were closed Tuesday because of planned and forced outages.

The state could be in danger of blackouts for the rest of the week, he said. A major Northern California generating plant is expected to reopen Wednesday, but it will be at least several days before it is back to full power, he said.

He praised several major power users who have voluntarily accepted power cutoffs.

These users are no longer bound by contract to interrupt their power supply but did so as "good corporate citizens," Dorinson said.

Dorinson said the cold weather and short hydroelectric supplies from the Northwestern Untied States, are keeping the state, particularly Northern California, chronically on the edge of not having enough power.

The state was last hit by blackouts Jan. 17-18 when large areas of Northern California suffered power losses.

Blackouts should be temporary, probably no more than 60-90 minutes. Phones should still work during blackouts. Here are some other helpful tips.

-If the power goes out, turn off all the electric appliances except one light while waiting for electricity to be restored. This lowers the initial demand for electricity and makes it easier for utility crews to restore electric service.

-Power outages in intersections. Treat every intersection controlled by signals as a four-way stop.

-Flashlights are preferred over candles. If you use candles, keep them in sturdy bases and out of the reach of children and pets. Never leave a candle unattended.

-Don't use natural-gas kitchen ovens for heat.

-Don't use non-electrical space heaters indoors that are designed for outside or construction use. These types of heaters give off dangerous carbon monoxide gas that has no odor or color.

- Bee Metro Staff

-- Swissrose (, February 13, 2001

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