July 14, 2006

California power infrastructure OK despite demand

By Bernie Woodall

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California's power plants,
transmission lines and distribution systems are expected to
operate well without causing blackouts during Friday's and
Monday's record electricity demand, the power grid operator and
the state's two largest utilities said on Friday.

A record pull on the power grid is expected Friday
afternoon at about 46,225 megawatts, more than the previous
peak of 45,431 megawatts set July 20, 2005. Thursday's demand
peaked at 44,655 megawatts and Monday's peak is forecast to be
46,500 megawatts.

The Cal ISO runs the state's power grid and its members
deliver power to about 80 percent of Californians.

Wildfires in California are not near transmission lines,
said Stephanie McCorkle, Cal ISO spokeswoman.

Major investor-owned utilities in the Cal ISO system are
Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and San
Diego Gas & Electric.

PG&E and So Cal Ed each said they anticipate no problems
with generation or transmission lines or delivery of power to
customers through Monday.

McCorkle said the grid operator is confident of avoiding
blackouts unlike during the 2000-2001 energy crisis when
rolling blackouts plagued California.

More generating plants and transmission lines have been
constructed since the crisis and distribution systems have been
upgraded, she said.

There has not been a call thus far for business customers
in a voluntary "interruptible" program to curtail use, said

"We've told the investor-owned utilities and they have put
the interruptibles on notice that we could call on them," said

The demand conservation program is voluntary. Businesses
that sign up for lower power rates agree to lower power use
when called upon during peak periods. About 1,840 megawatts can
be saved this way, which is 250 megawatts more than last

The Cal ISO and not the power companies would call for such
an action.

Some municipal systems are not members of the Cal ISO, such
as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the
Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Both of those systems
also said they anticipate no difficulties despite the high

So Cal Ed has about 4.7 million customers accounting for
about 13 million people. It serves much of Southern California
to the Sierras. It is a subsidiary of Edison International of
Rosemead which is in suburban Los Angeles.

Record demand on the So Cal Ed system was set on July 21,
2005, at 21,935 megawatts.

PG&E has about 5.2 million customers. It serves much of
Northern and Central California. It is a subsidiary of PG&E
Corp.. Record demand on the PG&E system is about 21,300

SDG&E serves San Diego and much of Southern California near
the Mexican border. A spokeswoman said SDG&E will set a new
demand record Friday at about 4,200 MW, which would eclipse a
record set on September 10, 2004, of 4,065 MW. The company
serves about 1.3 million customers and is a subsidiary of
Sempra Energy.

The LADWP's record demand was set July 22, 2005, at 5,661
megawatts. Henry Martinez, chief operating officer for power,
said no power interruptions are expected through Monday as
reserve margins are adequate. Thursday's peak demand for the
LADWP was 5,413 megawatts.

Chris Capra, spokesman for SMUD, said that municipal
utility is also not expecting any problems. SMUD's peak demand
on Thursday was 2,545 megawatts, against a record set July 15,
2005, of 2,959 megawatts. SMUD has about 513,000 residential

(Additional reporting by Scott DiSavino)