Rolling blackouts still a possibility in California

Rolling blackouts are likely Wednesday and possibly Thursday and Friday, California grid operator officials said during a morning briefing. With reserves down to less than 2%, Jim Detmers, managing director of operations, for the California Independent System Operator, warned 'that is the point we anticipate going into rotating outages. We have come almost to the end of the road.'

Jan 17th, 2001


Rolling blackouts are likely Wednesday and possibly Thursday and Friday, California grid operator officials said during a morning briefing.

With reserves down to less than 2%, Jim Detmers, managing director of operations for the California Independent System Operator, warned "that is the point we anticipate going into rotating outages. We have come almost to the end of the road."

He said the entire state, including San Diego Gas & Electric Co.'s territory could be affected.

Detmers said hydroelectric resources are "very tight" throughout the state, the Northwest is hanging onto its resources because of cold weather, and 11,000 Mw of generating capacity is still off line due to forced outages and planned maintenance.

Moreover, Detmers said people are reluctant to supply power because of financial concerns Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Edison Co. might not pay them.

"We have seen a significant reduction of power imported into California," he said.

Detmers said interruptible customers have been shut down since early Wednesday and pleaded with them to stay off the system the rest of the day, although under the rules they normally are asked to cut usage 6 hr. He also said the Water Resources Department is not running its pumps, which resulted in savings earlier this week. But Detmer ssaid the pumps may have to return to service because of the state's water situation.

Contributing to the "extremely tight" situation, Detmers said the grid operator was anticipating 4,500 Mw to return to service but only 1,100 Mw is back on line.

He appealed for conservation, noting Californians staved off rotating outages last week with heroic efforts to cut demand. If rolling blackouts are instituted today, Patrick Dorinson, ISO spokesman, said blocks of power starting with 500 Mw would be cut off, rising to as much as 2,000 Mw to keep the system from collapsing.

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