Voluntary Energy Conservation Important this Summer

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, July 9, 2004 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Most experts predict that the state will be able to manage electricity demands and resources this summer. However, the margins for supply are tight enough that under certain conditions, such as extended hot weather with a plant or transmission outage, the need for load shedding for interruptible customers and involuntary outages could arise.

To avoid the enormous costs and inconvenience of electricity outages, the California Independent System Operator (ISO) is reviving a successful program used during the height of the energy crisis to reduce electricity use at times of peak demand.

The ISO Voluntary Load Reduction Program (VLRP) asks participating businesses to reduce their energy consumption by taking certain predetermined actions when the ISO declares a Stage One Emergency. The goal is to prevent escalation of an emergency to higher levels that could require more severe actions, including rotating outages.

There is no estimate of the amount of demand relief that could be achieved this summer under the VLRP. However, during the 2001 energy crisis, California reduced its overall energy use by nearly 6 percent, which equates to approximately 5,000 megawatts. During emergencies even a few hundred megawatts saved can avoid outages.

The program is very simple and effective: when the ISO declares a Stage One Emergency, a notice is automatically sent to participants to reduce their electricity consumption by any amount that they are willing to make available. The start and end time of the curtailment is specified in the message. Following is a sample VLRP curtailment request:

"The California ISO has declared a Stage 1 Emergency.
Voluntary load reduction is requested between 15:00 hours and 16:00 hours."

The California Grocers Association, a long-term program participant, has found that the VLRP saves money and demonstrates good environmental stewardship. Participation in this program also serves as a reminder to employees and customers of the participating company that they too can personally contribute to conservation efforts. The California ISO acknowledges and promotes these "good citizen" conservation efforts through media events, news releases, and a special "thank you" to companies via its website.

CMTA will join the VLRP and help publicize this program and provide notices to our members. Look for more information on our website www.cmta.net in the coming weeks.
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