California Capsule: This News is Getting Old : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

California Capsule: This News is Getting Old

LCG, Feb. 14, 2001—It has been nine months since retail electric bills in San Diego sounded a wake-up call for California energy officials and the news is getting old – even tiresome. But for those who enjoy dancing on graves, it must be reported. Herewith, the lowlights for today:

The California Independent System Operator said the state will remain in a Stage Three Electrical Emergency, with operating reserves remaining at or near 1.5%, through midnight tonight. Cal-ISO says that every day.

Cal-ISO also called on the state's investor-owned utilities to cut back power deliveries to customers with interruptible contracts. The only problem with that is the ISO had by the end of last month used up the entire amount of cutbacks the utilities can make for this year.

Winter at last came to California this week, with snow falling on the hills surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area. Electricity customers, still protected from high power prices, cranked up their thermostats in response.

Duke Energy Corp. yesterday sued the state Department of Water Resources and the ISO, saying it is being ordered to sell electricity without assurance of payment. Duke said it would be happy to sell power to the Water Department but the Water Department for some reason was purchasing power through the penniless ISO.

So-called "green" groups say that a plan by California Gov. Gray Davis to get 5,000 megawatts of new generation on line by summer would adversely impact air quality standards by relaxing environmental regulations designed to protect human health and the environment. The groups then burned up a lot of juice using the Internet to get out their message.

Southern California Edison Co. said yesterday it didn't know whether its bank lenders will extend their Tuesday deadline for the utility to clear up its credit line defaults. There were no reports on the matter this morning.

A state legislative committee yesterday approved a bill authorizing Davis to negotiate the purchase of transmission assets belonging to the state's investor-owned utilities. That one won't happen – too many commuters stuck in 10-mile-per-hour jams on the state's freeways understand the implications.

Another measure, sponsored by San Francisco Sen. John Burton, would create a state power authority patterned after the New York Power Authority, which owns and operates power plants and transmission lines. It also cleared a legislative committee.

A conservation and energy generation bill, sponsored by Palo Alto Sen. Byron Sher, would allocate $1.2 billion for a variety of projects from $100 million to help those with low incomes get discounts on gas and electric bills to hundreds of millions of dollars in grants and loans to encourage energy-efficient programs in state buildings and homes and on farms. It too was approved in committee.

-- Martin Thompson (, February 14, 2001

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