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Pacific G&E Joins Calif. Summer Power Savings Bid

by Reuters
Reuters - July 26, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO, (Reuters) -- Pacific Gas & Electric Co., California's biggest utility, said on Thursday it has joined an effort to save precious megawatts of electricity by reducing power voltage after telling regulators just two weeks ago it was not ready to take part in the program.

The utility unit of PG&E Corp. has identified 300 circuits, or about 10 percent of its power network, where it can trim voltage below a standard 120 volts to save about 40 megawatts, or power for about 40,000 homes, utility spokesman Jon Tremayne told Reuters.

Loretta Lynch, president of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), sharply criticized the utility two weeks ago when it raised concerns about the energy savings program.

PG&E told the CPUC it would take up to three months to analyze and manually adjust circuit equipment to reduce voltage and the megawatt savings would be small.

Lynch said the program was ready to go until PG&E hesitated, and she delayed a CPUC vote to change regulations on voltage standards for California's utilities.

PG&E said on Thursday, however, that it had completed its analysis and was already trimming voltage levels. "We did a computer modeling of the system and found more circuits where we can reduce and still stay within the CPUC standards," said Tremayne.

The rest of the utility's circuits can operate at levels a few volts either side of 120 volts without damaging appliances and other electrical equipment, he said.

PG&E must adjust its circuits manually while Edison International's Southern California Edison unit, the state's second largest utility, is more automated and can move faster to trim voltage.

Gov. Gray Davis has asked the CPUC to consider allowing the utilities to cut voltage by around 2.5 percent, a move that energy analysts said could save up to 500 megawatts of electricity, the equivalent of a major power plant.

Large municipal utilities such as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Sacramento Municipal Utility District also have agreed to join the program even though they are not under the jurisdiction of the CPUC.

Facing a desperate shortage of electricity, California hoped to have the program in place this summer, when experts forecast as many as 260 hours of blackouts.

So far this summer, however, the state has not recorded a single hour of blackouts. Cool weather, a big push for energy conservation and three big new power plants coming onto the grid have kept the lights on.

Pacific G&E Joins Calif. Summer Power Savings Bid
Reuters July 26, 2001

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