California ISO invokes federal emergency order

With imports from the Pacific Northwest down to a 'trickle,' the California Independent System Operator Thursday declared concurrent Stage 1 and 2 power emergencies for northern California, and for the second day in a row invoked an emergency federal order issued by US Energy Sec. Bill Richardson. Constraints on Path 15, the high voltage transmission line carrying electricity between the north and south parts of the state, also continue to be a problem, the ISO said.


With imports from the Pacific Northwest down to a "trickle," the California Independent System Operator Thursday declared concurrent Stage 1 and 2 power emergencies for northern California, and for the second day in a row invoked an emergency federal order issued by US Energy Sec. Bill Richardson.

Constraints on Path 15, the high voltage transmission line carrying electricity between the north and south parts of the state, also continue to be a problem, the ISO said. Because only so much electricity can be transported due to limited transmission capacity, operating reserves are predicted to dip below 5% in northern California.

The ISO said the situation is placing heavy demand on power plants in southern California; however, it expects to maintain reliability without activating voluntary load shedding programs. ISO operations issued a call for supplemental bids for 3,000 Mw Thursday. Thursday's forecast peak is for 33,695 Mw at 6 p.m. PST.

Up to 300 Mw were made available to the California Independent System Operator Wednesday after the grid operator invoked Richardson's order Tuesday for the first time.

Richardson's order, extended to Dec. 28 at the ISO's request, instructs 75 generators and marketers, some inside California and some outside, to sell any surplus power to the ISO. Richardson initially acted after power suppliers threatened to halt sales to California for fear they might not be paid by the state's biggest utilities, now strapped by more than $8 billion in power costs.

California utilities have bought electricity at high wholesale prices but have not been able to pass the full amount to consumers because they are operating under a rate freeze.

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