Rolling blackouts in Southland

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Aug. 26, 2005 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

The first rolling blackouts since the 2000-2001 crisis hit Southern California on Thursday, August 25.  Power was cut to approximately 700,000 homes and 800 megawatts (MW) of interruptible customer load after a major transmission line was knocked out.

The loss of 2,800 MW of power combined with the area’s high demand (temperatures were 14 degrees higher than forecasted) required a reduction in system load to keep the electricity grid in balance.

The rolling blackouts underscore the extent to which grid reliability is a major concern for this summer.  Both state and federal energy officials are predicting a tight electricity supply situation in Southern California and an even tighter supply situation in the summer of 2006.

The state’s electricity demand grew four percent last year, with the largest percentage of growth in valley areas that are hot in the summer and require significant air conditioning.

Meanwhile, supply has not been keeping up with demand.  Since the 2000-2001 electricity crisis, most of the new power plants slated for construction have been postponed or canceled due to a combination of factors: low wholesale electricity prices, the Enron and related scandals, regulatory uncertainty and a reluctance by Wall Street to finance new electricity generation projects.  According to the California Energy Commission’s "Integrated Energy Policy Report", if a number of older power plants retire and additional resources don’t come on line before 2008, electricity reserve margins could become dangerously thin.

In light of the various warnings issued by federal and state officials and other industry experts, CMTA supports the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) efforts to ensure resource adequacy and an adequate reserve margin as well as granting authority to the utilities to engage in forward contracting through a competitive procurement process as provided in AB 57 (Roderick Wright, D-So. Ctrl. Los Angeles, signed into law in 2002, Ch. 835). The CPUC is presently implementing AB 57, with several resource adequacy and procurement proceedings underway.  Load-serving entities (including utilities and energy service providers) are required by CPUC order to maintain planning reserve margins of 15 to 17 percent by June 1, 2006.

These are important issues for manufacturers: the state’s economy, and the energy-intensive manufacturing sector in particular, need abundant and affordable power in order to be strong and healthy in the future.
Read more Energy articles

Capitol updates archive 989898989