July 24, 2006

California could see blackouts

NEW YORK (Reuters) - If Californians do not conserve
considerably on Monday, rotating outages are possible with
demand forecast to reach record levels again due to the heat
wave, the California Independent System Operator (ISO) said in
a release.

So far Monday, the ISO told the owners of the state's
generating facilities and power lines to avoid maintenance
operations until 8 p.m. Pacific Time.

On Friday, the peak demand reached a new record of 49,036
megawatts, up almost 8 percent over last year's record and
almost 2,500 MW over the current record of 46,561 MW set
earlier last week on July 18.

Meteorologists forecast the mercury on Monday would reach
84 degrees Fahrenheit in San Diego, 85 F in San Francisco, 86
in Los Angeles, 97 in San Jose, 107 in Fresno and 110 in

With the return of the workweek, business and commercial
buildings that have been closed through the weekend will open
again and consuming electricity to cool their buildings.

The ISO is expecting very high demand of 52,336 MW at
around 4 p.m. on Monday, which would break the current record
set on Friday by almost 7 percent. A megawatt in California can
usually power about 700 homes, but the number served per
megawatt drops during record usage.

Last week the ISO and the state's utilities were able to
serve the record demand, but with difficulty, the ISO said.

An estimated 800,000 homes and businesses were without
power at some point over the weekend, but all but about 80,000
had been restored by Sunday evening, according to the state's
large utilities.

The grid operator said a Stage 2 emergency was likely and a
Stage 3 emergency was possible.

In a Stage 2 emergency voluntary interruption of service to
select customers is possible to avoid more severe conditions.

In a Stage 3 emergency consumers are advised that
involuntary interruptions of service have begun and will
continue until the emergency has passed.

The ISO advises customers to set thermostats at 82 degrees
Fahrenheit or higher, cool with fans, draw the drapes, turn off
unnecessary lights and appliances and use big appliances in
early morning or late at night.

The California ISO operates the power grid in parts of
California for about 30 million people and administers the
state's wholesale power market with a generating capacity of
about 62,000 MW.