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California Governor Unveils Energy Conservation Plan

by Reuters
Environmental News Network, May 8, 2002

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Fearing a repeat of the rolling blackouts that crippled California last year, Gov. Gray Davis unveiled a conservation plan Tuesday aimed at keeping the lights on in the nation's most populous state this summer.

Davis said the state would renew a popular advertising campaign aimed at encouraging conservation and expand a program of consumer rebates on energy-efficient appliances to help save electricity in months when demand for power typically soars as residents crank up their air conditioners.

The governor, who also warned Californians not to get complacent in their conservation efforts, announced his plan as power demand is slowly creeping back up after a record level of energy savings last summer helped ward off rolling blackouts.

"California's energy challenge is not over," Davis said in a statement. "The energy market is not yet stabilized, the West's growth is putting more strain on our regional power grid, and there's always the chance it will be an unusually hot summer."

The state's energy crisis was caused by a flawed attempt to deregulate its power industry and a shortage of power supplies to meet rising demand from a booming economy and growing population. The result brought six days of rolling blackouts, pushed California's largest utility into bankruptcy protection, and sent state officials scrambling to scrape up enough power supplies to make it through the summer.

In the end Californians avoided more outages in part by saving up to 5,570 megawatts of electricity during the summer enough to power about 5 million homes.

Now Davis, a Democrat up for reelection, again sees conservation as crucial for the world's fifth biggest economy until the state can build up an electricity surplus from newly built power plants. "In addition to the construction of 11 new power plants, caps on the price of wholesale power, and long-term contracts, conservation was largely responsibly for getting through last summer without a single blackout," Davis said.

The governor added the state would spend $35 million on its ''Flex Your Power'' media campaign aimed at reminding residents of the need to conserve and work with retailers to promote energy efficient appliances through rebates.

California will also focus on the commercial and industrial sectors, responsible for 57 percent of peak demand in summer months, with an incentive program to reduce usage during times when power supplies run thin.

California Governor Unveils Energy Conservation Plan
Environmental News Network, May 8, 2002

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