Arizona imports power from sizzling California

Stifling in 110� F heat, Arizona is importing power from power-starved California. California, stewing in its own heat wave, is in turn trying to import power from as far away as British Columbia. Arizona normally exports electricity to California.


Ann de Rouffignac
OGJ Online

Stifling in 110� F. heat, Arizona is importing power from power-starved California.

California, stewing in its own heat wave, is, in turn, trying to import power from as far away as British Columbia.

Arizona normally exports electricity to California. But California�s unregulated merchant power appears to be flowing to the highest bidder. California recently approved a price cap of $500 Mw-hr. Arizona has no price caps.

Sources say that Arizona utilities faced with record-breaking demand will pay what it takes to keep the lights on during this extreme heat wave.

�It�s been a bad week,� says Will Diaz, spokesman for Arizona Public Service, the state�s largest utility. �We�ve had 4-5 days of 110� F. weather. We are just trying to get to the weekend when most of the commercial load will drop off,� he says.

Diaz says APS is fortunate because all generating plants are up and running. And there are no signs of transmission difficulties either.

APS owns about 4,000 Mw of capacity and the demand today may hit 5,500 Mw, he says. That will be an all-time record for the utility. To keep up with demand, APS trying to import power from Nevada.

Meanwhile, California asked industrial customers to curtail electricity use late in the day Wednesday. Today could be a repeat of yesterday.

�We are already in a stage one alert,� says Patrick Dorinson, spokesman for the California Independent System Operator.

Not only is it hot in southern California but some critical units representing 1,886 Mw of capacity are out of service. The units are out because of �good old-fashioned things that just go out,� he says. That means that 35, 964 Mw is available from in-state generation. The forecast load for California on Thursday is 42,600 Mw, he says.

The difference must be made up with imports. Problems in California are exacerbated when a heat wave also strikes neighboring states that normally sell power into that market.

�We are looking to bring power in from British Columbia,� Dorinson says. �It�s a question of the transmission capability.�

Operating reserves within the state fell below 5% Wednesday after the maximum capacity was reached on Path 26, a major transmission artery through central California. The transmission constraints were caused when northern California generation resources were sent south to meet the needs of southern California customers.

Since capacity limits on the Path 26 power lines had been reached, the California ISO initiated limited curtailments affecting Southern California Edison Co. and San Diego Gas & Electric Co.

Temperatures in southern California are approaching 100� F. and expected to remain in that range for a few more days.

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