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California using 9% less electricity, March and April down from last year

Lynda Gledhill, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau

Thursday, May 3, 2001, 2001 San Francisco Chronicle


Sacramento -- Californians are doing their part to help ease the energy crisis, using 9 percent less electricity in the past two months than during the same period last year, state figures show.

In April, residents and businesses reduced their electricity demand by 2, 866 megawatts compared with last year, according to the California Energy Commission.

The numbers are good news for Gov. Gray Davis, who is counting on conservation to help California get through the summer without blackouts.

"These figures indicate that Californians can not only meet our goal of reducing power consumption by 10 percent, we can probably do even better this summer," Davis said in a statement. "While we are already among the most electricity efficient states in the nation, we need to conserve every megawatt for the tough summer months ahead."

Davis has asked that every Californian conserve 10 percent this summer. Financial data being used by his administration to show how much power the state will have to purchase puts the estimate at 7 percent.

Energy consumption was down 9.2 percent, or 2,967 megawatts in March compared with the same time last year. In February, the number was 8 percent, or 2,578 megawatts, and in January it was 6.2 percent or 2,091 megawatts.

The numbers are adjusted for weather and growth. One megawatt is enough energy to power 1,000 homes. "People are aware of energy in California like never before," said Rob Schlichting, a spokesman for the energy commission. "I think the increase in natural gas bills this winter got people's attention. While the increases haven't been seen as much in the electricity area, people are aware one is coming and that they need to conserve."

In addition, partnerships with businesses and conservation by the state has had a significant impact, he said.

The numbers are even more encouraging since an $800 million conservation program signed into law by Davis has yet to fully kick in.

Schlichting said that within the next few weeks there will be many more opportunities for consumers to save energy. An online data base will allow residents and businesses to search for all the various conservation programs they can partake in, he said.

Earlier this week, Vice President Dick Cheney said it is unrealistic to expect the United States to conserve its way out of the energy crisis. "With respect to the vice president, it is obvious where his bias is," said Roger Salazar, a spokesman for Davis. "We still feel very strongly that we need every megawatt of savings to get through summer. While we agree that we need more generation, we will not able to get through the summer without conservation."

E-mail Lynda Gledhill at

2001 San Francisco Chronicle Page A - 4

-- Swissrose (, May 04, 2001

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