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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | COUNTYWIDE

Rising Mercury Leads to Some Cuts in Use

July 28, 1998|KATE FOLMAR

Temperatures toasted Ventura County residents Monday from Ojai to Simi Valley, where the highs hit the upper 90s to the low three-digits.

Coastal dwellers received some relief, with temperatures in Ventura and Oxnard in the more comfortable 70s to 80s range, according to the National Weather Service.

The sweltering heat throughout the region caused people to flip on their air conditioners and crank up their refrigeration--prompting Southern California Edison to ask some big energy users to voluntarily cut their consumption for a few hours or risk black- or brownouts statewide, said Mike Montoya, Edison's regional manager for Ventura County.

Officials at the Ventura County Government Center heeded Edison's request, shutting off nonessential computers, switching on emergency generators, turning off the air conditioning and sending most of the 2,000 employees home early Monday.

"The biggest effect here is the air conditioning," said Paul R. Young, the county's facilities engineer. "It warms up quite quickly once the A/C is off. It's been a steady procession of people leaving the buildings."

The rare voluntary reduction in power usage kicks in when "we have less than 5% of excess capacity left systemwide in California," Montoya said.

The large companies and government agencies asked to reduce their power between 3:30 and 9:30 p.m. receive reduced rates in return for their willingness to go without power.

"This doesn't happen very often," Montoya said. "But we have to do something to avoid power outages."

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