Monday, July 24, 2006

Stage 2 Alert for California

After surviving record heat and energy usage over the weekend, Californians will be faced with strict conservation measures and possible blackouts today.

"While we got through today just fine, we're very concerned about Monday. Everybody goes back to work and cranks on the computer, the coffee machine, the fax machine," said Gregg Fishman, a spokesman for the California Independent System Operator, a nonprofit corporation that manages the state's power grid.

"A lot of the office buildings that closed over the weekend have heated up, so the air conditioning load on a hot Monday is often incredible," Fishman said.

The state likely will hit a Stage 2 power emergency today and could face rolling blackouts, a Stage 3 emergency, in the afternoon, when usage levels typically peak, Fishman said.

An estimated 436,000 customers in the greater Bay Area lost power at some point Saturday or Sunday in heat-related power failures, PG&E spokesman David Eisenhower said. By 8 p.m. Sunday, service had been restored to 73 percent of those customers, leaving about 124,000 without power. Eisenhower said Bay Area crews were responding to 2,400 separate blackouts, most in the South Bay and inland East Bay.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Palmdale Power Mishap Fuels Energy Debate

An accident having nothing to do with recent high demand for electricity caused a blackout which thrust California energy issues into the Gubernatorial campaign.

A power-related failure of the regional air traffic control system in Palmdale led to a major delay at several Southern California airports. And to Angelides -- who, unlike Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, traverses the state via Southwest Airlines rather than private Gulfstream jet -- being stuck on the ground in San Diego on yet another day in which California's failure to completely respond to the inadequacies of our electric power system first unearthed in the power crisis of 2001 had everyone's fingers crossed around the state.

Team Arnold reports that the power-related snafu afflicting Phil Angelides' travel plans from San Diego airport was caused by a car hitting a pole. A back-up generator was engaged for an hour to keep the regional air traffic control system online, but the generator, which is not under state control, unaccountably failed. Which goes to show you, says Angelides advisor Maviglio, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez’s deputy chief of staff on loan for a few weeks to the treasurer’s campaign to upgrade it: "How fragile our system is."

Of course, that was also true when Maviglio’s previous boss, former Governor Gray Davis, was governor and a tree downing a power line in the far north state nearly led to widespread blackouts.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Heatwave Taxes Power Grid

The best that California's utilities can hope for this week is a little bit of cloudiness to keep the sunshine--and balckouts--at bay.

Energy officials are predicting record-breaking power usage across California today and throughout the week, as a blistering heat wave continues to grip the state.

Officials appealed for conservation, asking consumers Sunday to help avoid straining the power system as offices, industrial plants and schools reopen today and demand increases. In Los Angeles, however, a cooling trend was expected to keep energy usage at normal levels, said Department of Water and Power spokeswoman Gale Harris.