July 13, 2006

Record California power demand possible by Monday

By Bernie Woodall

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California's power grid could post
a new electricity demand record by Monday as air conditioners
across the state battle a powerful heat wave, the California
Independent System Operator said on Thursday.

The Cal ISO manages the power grid that connects major
power lines in the state.

A call for Californians to conserve electricity was
expected to be issued later on Thursday in the face of a
possible strain on the power grid, said Stephanie McCorkle,
spokeswoman for the ISO.

As of midday Thursday, there had been no weather-related
outages, McCorkle said.

"New temperature data (are) indicating a warm air mass is
pushing up temperatures even more than expected," McCorkle
said. "Definitely Friday and Monday we are looking to possibly
set new records for peak demand."

The highest demand is expected Monday when the hottest
temperatures are forecast in the current heat wave over most of
the western United States.

"We have had some load growth since last summer and this is
going to be a strong regional heat wave that is driving demand
for electricity," McCorkle said.

Earlier on Thursday, the Cal ISO called on generating
plants contributing to the state's power grid to restrict plant
maintenance from noon until 10 p.m. PDT on Thursday.

The Cal ISO expects peak demand to reach at least 43,675
megawatts on Thursday, which is nearing the record of 45,431
set last July 20, said a Cal ISO spokeswoman.

Friday's peak demand is expected to be at least 45,150

Those peak forecasts are expected to go up later Thursday
once the new weather forecasts are factored in, said McCorkle.

Californians will be asked to cut power use by raising
thermostats to 78 degrees Fahrenheit when they are home and to
at least 80 F -- or turning air-conditioners off altogether --
when they are away.

Homeowners are being asked to avoid running big appliances
during the hottest parts of the day.

Weather forecaster Meteorlogix said that in California the
highest temperatures in most major cities will be Monday or on
the weekend.

In Fresno, Monday's high will be 110 F, 14 F higher than
normal. Tuesday's high will be 105 F and Wednesday's, 103 F.

Los Angeles will be 4 degrees F above normal with a high of
78 F on Friday and it will remain in the uppers 70s to low 80s
through next Wednesday. In the San Fernando Valley near Los
Angeles, highs will be over 100 F through early next week.

Sacramento will have highs 5 F more than normal on Friday
and 12 F higher than the normal on Monday, when it will have a
high of 103 F. Tuesday's high will be 100 F and Wednesday's 97


Those forecasted temperatures from Meteorlogix were issued
early Thursday before weather experts said the coming warm air
mass Friday through Monday will be even hotter than first