State Officials Warn of Electricity Shortagesby Reuters
Los Angeles Times, January 22, 2005
Southern California may have a tough time keeping the lights on next summer, state energy officials said Friday.
Officials from the California Public Utilities Commission and the operator of the state's transmission grid said a combination of growing demand for power, aging generating plants and not enough transmission lines could dim lights in the region.
State Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Whittier), who chairs the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee, said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should convene an "energy summit" on power blackouts and other electricity problems.
The officials spoke at an energy forum in Los Angeles sponsored by the League of Women Voters of California, the PUC, the California Energy Commission and Town Hall of Los Angeles.
California is trying to rebuild its electricity industry as it recovers from the effects of its power crisis in 2000 and 2001.
The state's investor-owned utilities — including Edison International's Southern California Edison unit — were forced to order rotating blackouts during the emergency, when an electricity shortage was exacerbated by market manipulation by some energy traders.
"California cannot afford to have rotating outages again," said Jim Detmers, vice president of operations at the Independent System Operator, which runs most of the state grid.
A recovering economy and a growing population are straining power supplies in Southern California, Detmers said. "We have to fix the transmission system, bring on more generation and defer retirements at older generators," he said.
The ISO is expected to issue its annual forecast of summer power supplies and demand in March or April.
"We have some concerns about Southern California," an ISO spokesman said.
Michael R. Peevey, president of the PUC, said California was making progress developing coordinated energy policies among state agencies and ordering utilities to make long-term plans to secure more electricity supplies.
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