California back on emergency status, after 3-day respite

Ending a 3-day hiatus, the California Independent System Operator Monday afternoon declared a Stage 1 electrical emergency, signifying reserves were below 7%. According to market operations, the problem is again associated with a power deficit in northern California. Last week, the ISO battled to get power to the northern part of the state on Path 15, the frequently overloaded south-to-north transmission line.

Ending a 3-day hiatus, the California Independent System Operator Monday afternoon declared a Stage 1 electrical emergency, signifying reserves were below 7%.

According to market operations, the problem is again associated with a power deficit in northern California. Last week, the ISO battled to get power to the northern part of the state on Path 15, the frequently overloaded south-to-north transmission line. Twice during the week, California teetered on the edge of rolling blackouts as operators scrambled to find power that could be imported from the Northwest.

Demand is projected to peak at 32,218 Mw Monday. The ISO said the emergency is expected to be in effect from 2-10 p.m. PST.

The ISO asked participating transmission owners to notify utility distribution companies within their operational areas. that operating reserves are less than minimum and called for general conservation measures. It also advised the distribution companies to prepare for imminent implementation of interruptible load programs.

Monday's power emergency comes on the heels of a declaration Friday that for the first time in 12 days the ISO did not start the day with a Stage 1 or 2 alert. ISO officials credited Friday's smooth operation to US Energy Sec. Bill Richardson's decision to order out-of-state generators to sell surplus power to the California ISO.

Richardson initially acted Wednesday 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. Under the order, which ends Thursday, the ISO must notify suppliers how much is needed by 9 a.m. on the day before the requested service.

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