Grid officials, others studying planned blackouts : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Grid officials, others studying planned blackouts

Posted at 6:43 a.m. PDT Monday, May 21, 2001

BY JENNIFER COLEMAN, Associated Press Writer

SACRAMENTO (AP) -- Could Californians be waking up to hear a weather report, a pollen count and an electricity blackout forecast?

It's not out of the question, say some lawmakers.

`I actually think it's a thoughtful plan ... to give folks an opportunity to understand the likelihood of blackouts on a daily basis,'' Assemblyman Fred Keeley, D-Boulder Creek, the Assembly's point man on energy.

Keeley compared it to ``weather forecasting, to be able to look at the next three or four days, have a percentile about the likelihood of blackouts.''

The Independent System Operator, keeper of the state's power grid, is expected to release a report Monday detailing how such a plan would work.

The idea is ``to provide a lot of information so people can make choices to live with blackouts on a temporary basis this summer,'' Keeley said.

Peter Navarro, a University of California, Irvine, economics professor, released a report last month with a consumer group that recommends the state set a price limit on what they'll pay for power. And if generators don't lower the price, the state should schedule blackouts to cut consumption, he said.

The report by Navarro and the Utility Consumers' Action Network says the state's current method of ``highly disruptive random rolling blackouts'' needs to be revamped.

UCAN suggests that the state be divided into blackout zones that utilities could notify ahead of time that power would be cut at a specific time and for a certain duration.

Scheduling blackouts could attract criminals to outage areas, Keeley acknowledged, and possibly could subject the state to legal liability for traffic accidents or other incidents if power is deliberately shut off.

``That is a genuine problem and genuine concern,'' Keeley said. ``I think we would have to work with local governments so they could have a sufficient advance notice to be able to foresee that and try to deploy their resources appropriately.''

Critics of the planned blackouts said power producers simply could sell their unused electricity to other states, or trim back production to keep supplies short.

Assemblyman Mike Briggs, R-Fresno, plans to introduce a bill this week that would have the Public Utilities Commission notify businesses and homeowners as much as one month ahead of time when they would have their power cut.

`We owe the people of this state some kind of schedule,'' Briggs said. ``If businesses and individuals knew what days their power could potentially be shut off or blacked out, they could plan for that blackout accordingly.''

The Central Valley Republican said the ability to plan for outages would be especially benefit farmers, who need power to irrigate their crops.

Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg, who convened a special subcommittee on blackouts, has also suggested the state should consider scheduling daily blackouts to cut the state's power use and drive down prices. Democratic Assembly members plan to introduce their own version of a blackout plan.

Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Marina del Rey, has said she envisions giving consumers three to five days notice that their power will be cut during a particular period, so businesses could opt to shut down or shift their operations to nonpeak hours such as nights and weekends.

And by treating blackouts as a first option rather than a last resort, the state could cut its peak power needs and drive down prices, Bowen said. California power consumers would in essence form ``a reverse cartel to stop the market manipulation and the price gouging,'' she said.

The planned blackout suggestions come as state officials grow increasingly concerned that power prices will keep rising this summer, even beyond the extraordinary levels the state already has been paying on behalf of three cash-strapped privately owned utilities.

Gov. Gray Davis said the state paid $1,900 per megawatt hour at one point last week. The state has dedicated $6.7 billion since mid-January to purchase power for Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric.

Those expenditures will be repaid this summer when the state issues $13.4 billion in revenue bonds. The bonds will be repaid by ratepayers over 15 years.

-- Swissrose (, May 21, 2001


Those expenditures will be repaid this summer when the state issues $13.4 billion in revenue bonds. The bonds will be repaid by ratepayers over 15 years.
Duh, it's time to move.
Why ain't the prices being raised to meet the cost?? That would surely adjust the usage.

-- (, May 21, 2001.

Why can't planned, announced blackouts be accompanied by increased police surveillance in those areas to be blacked out?

If criminals will be alerted to choice targets ahead of time, so will the police.

-- QMan (, May 21, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ