Power Plant Outages Put California Back on Energy Alert

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Power Plant Outages Put California Back on Energy Alert February 28, 2001 2:51 pm EST

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California grid officials ordered a "Stage Two" power emergency on Wednesday, the first in the state since Feb. 20, as reserve power supplies plummeted below five percent of demand. The emergency was called after large generating units in the West tripped off line.

The alert, one level below a top level "Stage Three," which is called when rolling blackouts are imminent, was declared at 10 a.m. PST.

The California Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages most of the state's grid, said 10,677 megawatts of generating capacity -- enough electricity for more than 10 million homes -- was out of service in California alone on Wednesday for scheduled and emergency repairs.

The ISO said several power units went of service earlier Wednesday -- one in northern California, one in Oregon and two in Montana, dimming the outlook for reserve supplies.

The sudden loss early Wednesday of 1,340 megawatts at the Centralia coal-fired power plant in Washington state hurt the supply situation.

Both 670-megawatt units at the Centralia plant tripped off line following an accident at the plant, power market sources said.

A spokeswoman for the plant's owner, TransAlta Corp., later said a crane involved in the construction of emissions scrubbers at the plant had tipped over. There were no injuries, and further details were not immediately available.

In California, market sources said a 750-megawatt unit at the Moss Landing power plant operated by Duke Energy continued out of service on Wednesday.

Unit outages elsewhere in California and in Oregon and Montana could not be confirmed.

The ISO said the Stage Two order was to last until midnight.

Earlier this year, the California grid had 32 consecutive days of Stage Three emergencies -- and rolling blackouts on two days in January -- as power supplies could not keep pace with demand.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), February 28, 2001


Does anyone have any information about that crane that tipped over?

-- David Williams (DAVIDWILL@prodigy.net), March 01, 2001.

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