With 11,000 Mw down, California ISO issues alert

With about 11,000 Mw down for maintenance and reserves expected to fall below 5%, the California Independent System Operator (ISO), called a Stage 2 emergency Monday, putting interruptible load customers on notice. The ISO said it anticipated activating load shedding programs, but urged interruptible load customers to wait to reduce their contracted electrical load until ordered to do so by their local utility.


With about 11,000 Mw down for maintenance and reserves expected to fall below 5%, the California Independent System Operator (ISO), called a Stage 2 emergency Monday, putting interruptible load customers on notice.

The alert, the eighteenth Stage 2 emergency this year, is in effect until 8 p.m. PST. Earlier, the agency issued a Stage 1 conservation alert, asking all customers to conserve power. The ISO said it anticipated activating load shedding programs, but urged interruptible load customers to wait to reduce their contracted electrical load until ordered to do so by their local utility.

Interruptible customers, mainly commercial and industrial users, receive a reduced rate in exchange for a commitment to come off line when asked to do so for reliability purposes.

The ISO said it is forecasting peak demand of 32,820 Mw by 6 p.m. Monday, and put out a request for 2,000 Mw to help meet demand. The agency is forecasting an even higher peak demand of 32,900 Mw Tuesday.

The latest emergency underscores how tight power supplies are in California. Earlier, officials said they were alarmed so many plants would be down for maintenance simultaneously in the state. But most plants were run almost flat out this summer to keep up with record demand and could not be taken out of operation for maintenance. The ISO has issued 45 so called "no touch" days this year, effectively ordering no maintenance without ISO permission, up from just 12 in all 1999.

Record power prices this past summer have embroiled the California electric industry in a political battle with continuing state and federal repercussions. Just 2 weeks ago, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a proposed order to solve problems in the wholesale market which has received a mixed reception.

Terry Winter, ISO chief executive, is already forecasting shortages for the summer of 2001.

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