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How blackout warning plan works

Monday, May 21, 2001, 2001 Associated Press


(05-21) 14:24 PDT (AP) --

Details of plan by California Independent System Operator to warn of impending blackouts:

* When demand is high, ISO will issue forecasts 24 hours in advance giving projections of peak demand, supply and weather outlook. Notice will be given to the media, emergency-services agencies and the utililities.

* A "Power Watch" will be issued when it is likely the grid will reach Stage One, when the system is within 7 percent of running out of power, or Stage Two, when the system is within 5 percent of running out of power.

* A "Power Warning will be issued when there is at least a 50 percent chance of a Stage One alert -- when demand is within 11/2 percent of the available supply.

* 30 minutes before ordering the utility companies to trigger rolling blackouts, the ISO will put out a "notice of probable load interruption." Notice goes to media and utilities, and is posted on the agency's Web site, If power is found, or if the warning prompts enough conservation, blackouts can still be avoided.

* Plan takes effect May 30.

How utilities tell customers which areas will be blacked out:

* Pacific Gas & Electric bills presently show customers which outage "block" they are in. Blocks are blacked out in a specific order that customers can find on company's Web site. PG&E typically gives the block numbers in announcing a rolling blackout.

* Southern California Edison plans to start a similar system of informing customers their "outage group number" by June 3.

* PG&E has pager, e-mail and automated telephone notification systems for big power users and residential customers on life-support equipment.

2001 Associated Press

-- Swissrose (, May 21, 2001

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