California faces potential for blackouts again

Rolling blackouts could be in the offing Thursday, officials with the California Independent System Operator said at an 11 a.m. PST briefing, unless the grid operator can import additional power from the Northwest. The ISO narrowly averted blackouts Wednesday. The ISO is about 1,000 Mw short of supplies needed to keep the system running, officials said.


Kate Thomas
OGJ Online

Rolling blackouts could be in the offing Thursday, officials with the California Independent System Operator said at an 11 a.m. PST briefing, unless the grid operator can import additional power from the Northwest. The ISO narrowly averted blackouts Wednesday.

Transmission lines running from southern to northern California are at full capacity, said Jim McIntosh, ISO director of scheduling, and "if we don't get Northwest power we are going to have to cut firm power."

He said the ISO is about 1,000 Mw short of its needs, although there has been an improvement in the supply situation since US Energy Sec. Bill Richardson's Wednesday acted ordering out-of-state suppliers to sell power to California at prices to be determined by the Energy Department.

The ISO is forecasting a peak load of 33,491 Mw Thursday and urged customers to conserve power. McIntosh said leaving Christmas lights off until after 7 p.m. could forestall rolling blackouts.

The state continues to be plagued by a transmission constraint on Path 15 the transmission line running from south to north. It is running at capacity and tends to get overloaded, said McIntosh. The only way to relieve the line load is to increase generation in northern California or increase imports from Northwest.

Complicating the ISO�s task is the continuing low water level at Helms generating plant, a large hydroelectric plant. McIntosh said only 8 hr worth of water remains available for Thursday.

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