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Californians Cut Energy Use 12.3% From Last Year

July 02, 2001|TWILA DECKER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Blackout-weary Californians are apparently doing what has been asked of them: consuming less energy.

State residents used 12.3% less power in June 2001 compared with June last year, according to findings released Sunday by the California Energy Commission.

The figures also show that during peak times of the day, energy consumption was cut even further to 14.1%.

"It's all the little things Californians are doing," said Roger Salazar, a spokesman for Gov. Gray Davis. "Whether it's changing to fluorescent lightbulbs, setting the thermostat at 78 degrees . . . or turning in old appliances. All of these things are adding up."

The conservation efforts coupled with the addition of three new power plants, two of which are expected to be online this week, lessens the likelihood of a summer of rolling blackouts, Salazar said.

On Wednesday, a 320-megawatt power plant opened near Bakersfield. Today, a 550-megawatt plant is scheduled to open in Sutter County. A third is set to open in Contra Costa County on July 9.

But Salazar cautioned that no one can control Mother Nature.

"We're not in the prediction business," he said. "If we have a week of hot days, that could increase demand. All we can do is do the things that are in our control."

In compiling its figures, the commission factored in changes in economic growth, population increases and temperature variations between June 2000 and June 2001.

Without factoring in those differences, there was an actual meter reduction of 3,834 megawatts.

Though the figures are a good sign, Davis warned residents not to become complacent.

"Every kilowatt saved is money we keep in California and out of the pockets of out-of-state generators," he said. "For those of you who can, I urge you to do more."

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