Energy Chief Warns of Calif. Summer Blackouts : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Thursday March 15 9:25 AM ET Energy Chief Warns of Calif. Blackouts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Electricity blackouts appear ''inevitable'' in California this summer because power supplies cannot keep up with demand, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham (news - web sites) said on Thursday.

Abraham, in written testimony prepared for a Senate Energy committee hearing on California's chronic power crisis, said the nation's richest and most populous state already experienced three blackouts that affected hundreds of thousands of residents in recent months.

``The problem will get worse, and blackouts this summer appear inevitable when peak demand is expected to be 61,125 megawatts while supplies are anticipated to be only 56,159 megawatts,'' Abraham said.

Abraham said some industry analysts expect California to experience about 20 hours of rolling blackouts this summer, while other experts warn it could as high as 200 hours. ``The clear cause of this electricity crisis is an imbalance between supply and demand,'' he said.

California's power woes stem from a state deregulation law that barred utilities from passing through sharply higher wholesale costs to consumers. The state has been struggling for several weeks to keep major utilities from bankruptcy and to sign long-term supply contracts for power.

-- Carl Jenkins (, March 15, 2001

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