July 18, 2006

Calif. grid boosted by hydro, imports, new plants

By Leonard Anderson

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Ample supplies of
hydroelectricity, imported power from nearby states, and new
generation from in-state plants helped to ease the strain on
the California grid on Tuesday, power officials said.

The California Independent System Operator, which runs most
of the state grid, forecast a peak demand of 47,049 megawatts
on Tuesday, which would eclipse a record high set on Monday of
46,561 megawatts as customers used air conditioning to beat
triple-digit heat.

But ISO spokesman Gregg Fishman said cloud cover forecast
for parts of Southern California could cool conditions there
and ease some of the demand for electricity. Temperatures also
eased slightly in the San Francisco Bay Area.

"Hydropower is making a real difference on the system.
Usually we see a little drop-off at this time of year but hydro
generation has been running at almost 100 percent. We're in
much better shape than in a typical year," Fishman said.

Heavy late-winter snow storms in the Sierra Nevada
Mountains delayed the snow melt, ensuring a larger volume of
water to spill through hydro dams to generate electricity, said
Jon Tremayne, a spokesman for PG&E Corp's Pacific Gas &
Electric Co. unit, the state's largest utility.

"Hydro generation accounts for 22 to 24 percent of our
total power supply in a robust hydro year and that means we
have more reliability and don't have to purchase more expensive
power," Tremayne said.

PG&E had an all-time record demand of 20,900 megawatts on

In California, one megawatt can serve about 700 residential
customers in normal demand periods, but less during peak demand
such as this week.

The California grid also was helped on Tuesday morning by
scheduled imports of about 8,000 megawatts of electricity from
generators in Washington, Oregon and other nearby states, the
ISO said.

Susanne Garfield, a spokeswoman for the California Energy
Commission, said the state has added more than 2,000 megawatts
at new power plants this year and a net total of 8,400
megawatts since the height of the California power crisis in