The Heat Is Online

California Heat Threatens Blackouts

Scorching California Threatened with Rotating Blackouts

SACRAMENTO, California, August 4, 2000 (ENS) - California power system officials issued a Stage One electrical emergency between the hours of 2 and 8 pm today, due to the mechanical failure of two Southern California generating units.

An intense and lengthy heat wave hitting the entire western United States is shrinking power reserves at the time when electricity is in great demand.

Today is the seventh consecutive day of high temperatures in the state, and the consumer demand for power remains high as air conditioners run continuously in businesses and homes.

A "probable" warning of "rotating blackouts" has been issued by the California Independent System Operator, the agency responsible for managing the flow of electricity along the long-distance, high-voltage power lines that make up the bulk of California's transmission system.

Californians are asked to voluntarily reduce their use of electricity today especially during the peak afternoon hours to prevent more severe curtailment measures. Peak demand on the transmission system is expected to reach 42,600 megawatts by this late afternoon.

Recognizing that the federal government is among the largest consumers of electricity in California, President Bill Clinton today asked the managers of federal buildings in California take steps to reduce consumption of power "to the maximum extent practicable consistent with the health and welfare of employees."

The President directed federal agencies to coordinate with other state and local government agencies to minimize the use of electricity in all government buildings in California.

Electricity in California is generated both by private utilities and by the federal government. The President directed that federal agencies "maximize the amount of electricity that can be delivered to California," and "work with the state of California to develop procedures governing the use of backup power generation in power shortage emergencies.

California Governor Gray Davis said the state is also moving to cut power use. "I applaud President Clinton’s action to help increase the supply and reduce the demand for electricity by the federal government in California," he said.

"Coupled with the Executive Orders that I signed yesterday to reduce energy use in state government facilities, as well as voluntary actions by businesses throughout the state to cut back on power usage, we are taking the necessary steps to reduce the risk of power outages to California businesses and communities," the governor said.