California seen avoiding more blackouts this week : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Tuesday March 20, 11:04 pm Eastern Time

California seen avoiding more blackouts this week

SAN FRANCISCO, March 20 (Reuters) - A huge public effort to save energy and a gradually rising electricity supply helped California get over the evening hump without further blackouts, California power officials said on Tuesday.

``We believe we've ridden out the day...we don't anticipate any blackouts tonight,'' Patrick Dorinson, a spokesman for the California Independent System Operator (ISO) told a news briefing.

ISO operators, which oversee most of the state's high-voltage transmission network, ordered statewide rolling blackouts at 9:30 a.m. Pacific Time (12:30 p.m. Eastern 1730 GMT) when electricity supplies fell short of energy demand, threatening to topple the system.

The outages, affecting upwards of a million homes and businesses, lasted for about three and a half hours.

The ISO said the outlook for the grid improved through the afternoon as emergency supplies were made available to the state from hydro-electric facilities in the Northwest, British Columbia, and Arizona.

A 790 megawatt power plant at the Mohave power station in neighboring Nevada, shut by a transformer fire Monday, was back on line Tuesday afternoon, ISO officials confirmed.

An adjacent Mohave unit, also 790 megawatts, was likely to return to service overnight, bringing badly needed power to Southern California and easing the supply crunch Wednesday.

A big factor in getting through the evening, when power use typically peaks this time of year, was the public response to pleas to cut energy use.

``This afternoon the citizens of California conserved about 900 megawatts -- now that's a lot,'' Dorinson said. Nine hundred megawatts is enough electricity to run nearly a million homes.``Californians are back on the conservation trail,'' he said.

The generation picture for the rest of the week also looked brighter, with more power plants expected to reconnect to the grid from repair and maintenance outages, Dorinson said.

At the height of the blackouts Monday, about one third of the state's power plants were off line for maintenance or financial problems linked to California's flawed 1996 deregulation effort.

``More units are expected to come back later in the week...and temperatures are supposed to moderate over the next couple of days. We're looking better,'' he said.

-- Swissrose (, March 21, 2001

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