California exempts oil refineries from electrical blackouts


By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, June 28 -- The California Public Utilities Commission Thursday voted 5-0 to exempt the state's refineries from rotating electrical outages this summer.

Several of California's 12 refineries had petitioned the PUC for waivers after a commission rule in April failed to give them automatic exemptions from blackouts.

Gov. Gray Davis also had urged the PUC to ensure electric power for refiners (OGJ Online, June 8, 2001). Davis wrote, "The California Energy Commission, in their submittals to you, has pointed out that petroleum refineries are very sensitive to electricity curtailments. Even a brief disruption of electricity can force a refinery into total shutdown for weeks. As a result of curtailment, the production and supply of critical petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel and aviation fuels can be jeopardized for several weeks.

"The availability of petroleum-derived transportation fuels is critical to the public health and safety of Californians. Public safety agencies such as law enforcement, emergency medical care responders, and the military all rely on these fuels. Without petroleum fuels, the ability of these essential-use customers to perform their critical functions would be seriously impaired.

"In addition, as an industry, California's refineries are net producers of much needed electricity. Shutting down these facilities during rotating outages contributes to an even tighter electrical supply that should be avoided," Davis said.

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