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CA: State power supply stretched to limit - It'll take some luck to avoid summer blackouts
The Press-Enterprise ^ | 4/27/05 | Leslie Berkman

Posted on 04/28/2005 9:35:00 PM PDT by NormsRevenge

California should have enough power to get through this summer without blackouts -- as long as nothing goes wrong.

Keepers of the state's power grid say supplies are stretched so thinly that a widespread heat wave or wildfire could mean homeowners and businesses may once again wait their turn for the lights to go out.

Rolling blackouts -- planned power outages that are "rolled" from area to area to protect the power grid when electricity supplies are critically low -- became part of Californians' life during the state's power crisis four years ago.

Explosive growth in areas far from cooling ocean breezes means such outages will be increasingly likely unless the state boosts supplies with more power plants and transmission lines and better efforts to use power wisely.

Financial and political uncertainties following California's 2001 energy crisis slowed efforts to build new power plants as antiquated power plants go off-line.

Since then, the state's population and economy have continued to expand.

Riverside and San Bernardino counties added 148,064 new residents, making them the nation's second- and fifth-fastest growing counties, respectively, between July 2003 and July 2004, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

State energy officials were caught off guard by a resurging California economy, said Sean Gallagher, acting director of the energy division of the Public Utilities Commission.

"Demand picked up last year much faster than anybody expected," he said.

Record Usage Projected

Southern California's peak demand for electricity hit 25,869 megawatts last summer. It is expected to set a record between 27,080 megawatts and 29,080 megawatts this summer.

As early as next summer, officials say, Southern California could face an energy shortage even under normal weather conditions.

"Looking at 2006, we don't see a solution," said Gregg Fishman, spokesman for the California Independent System Operator, the agency charged with overseeing the state's power grid. "But a number of agencies . . . and the governor's office are working on it."

Critics say they are aghast that four years after California reeled under rolling blackouts, state agencies in charge of the statewide power grid have not ensured that summer shortfalls will not be repeated.

"It is the political machine that really has the power to map the direction of power for the state, and I just don't see it getting done," said Jack Stutz, president and chief executive of Tamco Steel, a Rancho Cucamonga company that uses electric furnaces to recycle steel into concrete reinforcements.

By 2009, Southern California's demand for electricity will be 7.5 percent greater than supplies even in a normal summer, according to the California Energy Commission. Demand could exceed supply by 15.5 percent in an extraordinary hot spell.

When reserves fall below 1.5 percent -- before demand exceeds supply -- the grid's operator is required to set rolling blackouts in motion.

Counting on Cool Weather

Southern California can relax this summer if the weather is mild, according to the ISO forecast for the region. It will have an almost a 9 percent power reserve when demand peaks in September.

But there's no guarantee the weather will cooperate. Historically, there's a 1-in-10 chance that a summer will include a serious heat wave in Southern California.

Forecasters expect Southern California will be cooler than normal in June, turning warmer than average in July and August, according to Global Climate Center, a private consulting service based in Washington whose clients include Cal ISO, Edison International, the parent of Southern California Edison, and the city of Riverside.

Tom Dunklee, Global's chief atmospheric scientist, said he expects the summer will fall short of the hottest-in-10-years model that state agencies chose as their worst-case planning scenerio. Dunklee said it will probably be as hot a summer as Southern California normally gets in six or seven years.

Dunklee said with a warmer than average summer also predicted throughout the western United States and with the Northwest unusually dry, "it will be tougher than average on power."

Gallagher, of the California Public Utilities Commission, says faster power-plant development and the expansion of programs to promote more efficient, off-peak use of electricity mean blackouts should be avoided even in an extra-hot Southern California summer.

But he warned that a severe heat wave in all western states, which would create intense competition for limited energy resources, a major power-plant outage or a wildfire that puts out a major transmission line could spell trouble.

Hydropower Shortage

Southern California can't rely on cheap hydropower from the Pacific Northwest this year. That region is in its sixth year of drought, leaving water levels in the system of dams operated by the Bonneville Power Administration 30 percent lower than normal.

"What that means is that we have less surplus power to sell to California and the region," said Bonneville spokesman Mike Hansen.

Jim McIntosh, the ISO's director of grid operations, said Bonneville officials have said the best they can promise is to provide a few hours of emergency electricity at a time, and only when necessary, to prevent blackouts.

Southern California Edison, the investor-owned utility that serves 13 million customers and most of the Inland Empire, said it has arranged for electricity to satisfy 15 percent more than its anticipated summer demand.

However, ISO officials say they worry that some electricity that Edison and other utilities expect to receive may not make it to Southern California through bottlenecks in the transmission system. The ISO will simulate a hot-weather scenario early next month and try to schedule deliveries of electricity through the transmission grid.

Edison officials say their company has solicited additional power from renewable sources like wind, solar and biomass and plans new transmission for wind power produced in the Tehachapi region.

The utility also has applied to the Public Utilities Commission to build a 230-mile transmission line between California and Arizona that would provide California with an additional 1,200 megawatts of low-cost electricity.

It is building the 1,054-megawatt gas-fired Mountainview power plant in Redlands and is seeking permission to install more efficient steam generators at San Onofre Nuclear Power Station.

Long-Term Contracts Issue

Yet Edison has delayed awarding long-term power contracts that independent power producers say they need to finance the construction of an adequate number of power plants.

The utility last week issued a request for proposals for such long-term contracts. But the company said it won't enter into those contracts unless state regulators agree to spread the cost onto all Southern California power customers on the ISO grid.

Pedro Pizarro, Edison's vice president of power procurement, said Edison has been unwilling to award long-term contracts because the company is uncertain how many customers it will have in the future. This uncertainty stems from legislation proposed in Sacramento that would allow more Edison customers to shop for power elsewhere.

If everyone in Southern California who shares the grid operated by the Independent Systems Operator is required to help pay for the electricity produced by new power plants, Pizarro said, Edison's customers and shareholders will not be forced to pay for electricity Edison may not need.

The ISO and utilities also are promoting an arsenal of conservation measures to relieve demand on the system.

For the summer of 2005, Edison has reintroduced a "20-20" program that will give households that cut their energy use by 20 percent an additional 20 percent savings.

It is working to enlarge its roster of industrial and commercial customers that in exchange for a discounted rate agree to have their power supply interrupted up to 25 times in a year.

And it is offering summer discounts to residential customers who agree to have a device installed in their air conditioning that will shut it off when power supplies get tight.

Al Guzman, senior vice president of operations for Fender Musical Instruments Corp. at its Corona plant, said Fender since 1998 has been one of Edison's "interruptible" customers.

Guzman said the guitar maker learned in 2001 that it could manage the inconvenience by adjusting its production shifts to avoid the hours when it would most likely be asked to reduce power consumption.

"When properly used and managed, there are quite significant savings," Guzman said of the interruptible program.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; US: California
KEYWORDS: blackouts; california; calpowercrisis; energy; limit; power; state; stretched; summer; supply

1 posted on 04/28/2005 9:35:00 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach


2 posted on 04/28/2005 9:36:20 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ...... The War on Terrorism is the ultimate 'faith-based' initiative.)
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To: NormsRevenge

Now, About That Electricity Mess in California...

ENRON: The story is about Bad Business AND Worse Government.  It's HERE

Some well-meaning but ignorant people (and some well-informed, but delibertately lying demagogues) are saying it's due to "deregulation."  But wait a minute.  The state government mandated where and how power companies must buy power at wholesale.  And forced them to sell their power-generating facilities.  And delayed and prevented construction of new power plants.  And they  NEVER removed the ban on competition within THE SAME GEOGRAPHICAL AREA.  And they NEVER removed their caps on RETAIL prices.  And more.  You call ALL THAT "deregulation"???  Huh???  Give me a break!

   "One of the most important reasons for studying history is that virtually every stupid idea that is in vogue today has been tried before and proved disastrous before, time and again." -- Dr. Thomas Sowell

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." ~ George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1906


"Since the 2001 electricity crisis, two California utilities have become insolvent, the state has entered long-term contracts to buy electricity at exorbitant rates and the electricity trading industry has gone into near collapse ... [due to] conflicting policy directions being pursued for the industry at the state and federal levels." HERE
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it and then misapplying the wrong remedies." -- Groucho Marx
"To err is human, but it takes a politician to really screw things up." -- Old American Adage
"Memos showing that Enron* used manipulative strategies during last year’s California energy crisis have caused a furor. The incentives and opportunities for Enron to use such strategies, however, were created by California’s government-regulated electricity market." 
-- from An economic view of the Enron memos by  Lance T. Izumi.  Source: Pacific Research Institute
The fundamentals: how swarms of bureaucratic termites eat away the foundations of our economy, our security, our freedom.
Socket to California
"We're outa gas, dude"
Central Planning Sucks
California Scheming
The Idiot's Guide to Energy
Left-Coasters Shocked by the Obvious
"Price-Gouging": The Rest of the Story
The "Electricity" issue of Privatization Watch
The new "price caps" backfire.  Well, surprise, surprise (Duh).
P.J. O'Rourke:"California is in the midst of an enormous stupidity crisis."
...and they apply that incredible stupidity and short-sightedness to more than just electricity...
Dim Bulbs in the Golden State -- NOW! with "a full-bore Cuban-style recovery plan!!!" (oh, boy)
Pompous Stupidity Watch:  How the New York Times' so-called "economics" columnist demonstrates his arrogance and massive ignorance (and/or his disgusting agenda)  is exposed RIGHT HERE.
What to do about any monster you create if you're a clueless California politician
Shameful confessions of a former state utilities regulator
Willful Ignorance and Blind Faith in Regulations
"...politicians always blame the private sector first ... this time even "blaming the problem on the solution."
Yes, California, you really did put a vacillating, buck-passing, blame-throwing economic illiterate in the governor's mansion.
But wait! There's MORE!! California politicians get the booby prize for creating the most convoluted market for electricity ever
The Legacy of Regulation -- The Op-Ed by a NOBEL LAUREATE IN ECONOMICS whose editors Gray Davis then called "assholes"
An Eminent Economist says, "whenever I hear the word 'shortage' I wait for the other shoe to drop."
"What the state actually did was engage in meddling micromanagement"
>>>>>California Power Mess FAQs <<<<<
"California politicians have committed fraud on a massive level."
"California Screamin'", "The Electricity Blame Game" and other articles
"California has never had real deregulation of its electrical industry.  None."
"Blame enviros for electric mess",   "the childish quest for a free lunch"   and   "Isn't Logic a Bitch?"
FIND "Destructionist government policy has increasingly restricted the supply of 
electric power in California and throughout the United States." HERE and HERE
How dysfunctional were the rules that California's bumbling politicians created?
What Dictator Davis Didn't Learn in Econ. 101
How to Avoid Blackouts NOW
-- and read about "Environmentalists vs. Mankind" HERE.

*Enron, of course, is exactly the kind corporation which could not exist in pure capitalism.  As a creature, in effect, of politicians, it was deliberately converted from a small pipeline company into an international conglomerate by conniving scoundrels who designed it from the beginning to use the power of their politician-friends to give it government contracts, subsidies, monopoly powers, and favorable regulations to force prospective customers to do business with them, essentially at gunpoint.  This, of course, is fascism, not capitalism, and what you get more and more of when you work to transform what was once the rule of clear-cut law into the rule of men (especially hair-splitting judges and lawyers).
"Environmental crusaders have spent the past 30 years influencing ignorant, unprincipled or gullible politicians to pass new laws and create new agencies that affect everything from oil, to natural gas, to nuclear power, to electricity. The net result is that manacles have effectively been slapped around the ankles of power suppliers, creating a huge disincentive for them to construct any new (and what certainly would be more energy efficient) power plants." -- Wayne Dunn

Where did you learn your economics?  From network news anchor robots?  Headline writers working for hack newspaper editors?  Well, learn this fast: Price controls cause shortages; government-mandated price ceilings inspire consumers to buy more; they take away efficient producers' incentives to produce more, they make marginal producers go out of business, they even give producers incentives to produce less, and they scare away anyone who might have invested in new production facilities (duh). Read a few concise explanations of price controls HERE.

SOOOoooo... Thanks for the blackouts,
stupid price-controllers and fanatic tree-huggers!

So guess what? 
Yup:  Government is THE PROBLEM, NOT the solution.
"This government never furthered any enterprise but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way."
-- Henry David Thoreau in his essay, "Civil Disobedience"
"Giving money and power to the government is like giving car keys and whisky to teenage boys."
-- P. J. O'Rourke

"It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions  in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong." -- Thomas Sowell 

"Everything the government touches turns to crap." -- Ringo Starr 

"Being a politician means never having to say you're sorry.  You don't have to say, 'I never should have voted to subsidize that ridiculous Enron project in India.'  ... After all, they're greedy businessmen and you're a selfless public servant."-- Harry Browne

"Whenever you come across a screw-up this big, you know the government is behind it." -- Ann Coulter

See: The REAL Causes of the Northeast Blackout HERE.

Isn't it time YOUR company and community got immunity from politicians with
your own power generating station?

Get YOUR OWN Electricity Generator HERE !

<BACK to Environmental Challenges                 It's never too late to start learning =====> --------

-- all from THIS PAGE

3 posted on 04/28/2005 9:50:51 PM PDT by FreeKeys ( “Life is tough. It’s even tougher if you’re stupid.” – John Wayne)
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To: FreeKeys
Thanks for all the links.

Everything in California is a crisis. Health care, health insurance costs, housing, education, government budgets, you name it.

I don't fault the planners.

They could not be expected to forecast the millions and millions of people living here consuming and consuming who were not suppose to be here.

That greatly contributes to the problem. Psst. Don't tell anyone, it not permitted to talk about it.

4 posted on 04/28/2005 10:02:45 PM PDT by WilliamofCarmichael (MSM Fraudcasters are skid marks on journalism's clean shorts.)
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To: FreeKeys

FReedomKeys Bump


5 posted on 04/28/2005 10:07:52 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ...... The War on Terrorism is the ultimate 'faith-based' initiative.)
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To: WilliamofCarmichael
"Everything in California is a crisis."

After hearing this for years, there comes a time when I say "Who Cares?".

6 posted on 04/28/2005 10:50:59 PM PDT by TYVets (God so loved the world he didn't send a committee)
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To: WilliamofCarmichael
I don't fault the planners.

Fault the planners.

"California [has been], in fact, a perfect petri dish of Democratic [Party]  policies." 
-- Ann Coulter, HERE

See how runaway environmentalism played a part in both the WTC and Columbia tragedies HERE, in the California blackouts HERE in the northeast blackout HERE, in the California wildfires (and resulting mudslides) HERE, ... 

7 posted on 04/29/2005 4:57:18 AM PDT by FreeKeys ( “Life is tough. It’s even tougher if you’re stupid.” – John Wayne)
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To: NormsRevenge; Grampa Dave; SierraWasp; Carry_Okie; tubebender; snopercod; Dog Gone; randita; ...

In other news, Lockjaw is giving up his run for Governator!

8 posted on 04/29/2005 8:57:29 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (This tagline no longer operative....floated away in the flood of 2005 ,)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Possibly not enough power this summer, and definitely not enough for next summer. Wonderful. We can revive those old Calpowercrisis threads!

9 posted on 04/29/2005 12:12:23 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; NormsRevenge

Oh my!

How can this be! (/sarcasm)

Actually, I am not really surprised.

Just remember to chill your beer the night before so when the blackouts hit, you can sit on the pourch with a tall cold one, while you wait for your computer and TV to come back on.

10 posted on 04/29/2005 4:36:50 PM PDT by Robert357 (D.Rather "Hoist with his own petard!"
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To: FreeKeys
The "planners" in California all retired soon after Ronald Reagan left his gubernatorial post. They could not have foreseen or fathomed the sheer stupidity and block-headedness of their successors, both as residents and as governmental agents.
11 posted on 04/29/2005 4:52:31 PM PDT by dufekin (United States of America: a judicial tyranny, not a federal republic)
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