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Power Demand Today Is Expected to Beat Record

August 11, 2004|From Reuters

California could see its second power emergency of the year today with a new record for electricity demand set Tuesday likely to be shattered, a spokeswoman for the state's grid operator said.

"We should see a huge jump [in demand for power] tomorrow as northern California heats up," said Stephanie McCorkle, spokeswoman for the California Independent System Operator.

The California ISO reported demand reached a record 44,497 megawatts Tuesday, breaking the previous record of 44,360 megawatts set July 21.

The state agency forecast that the new peak would not last for long, with a new all-time high load of 46,020 megawatts forecast for today.

One megawatt is traditionally considered enough power for about 1,000 homes, but in some areas it can shrink to as few as 250 homes during heat waves.

McCorkle said it was "possible" the agency may have to issue a Stage 1 alert today but unlikely it would escalate to either a Stage 2 or 3.

California has a three-stage emergency system. Under Stage 1, consumers are urged to reduce use voluntarily. The only Stage 1 alert this year was on March 29.

Stage 2 results in the loss of service for some commercial customers who receive electricity at a discount in return for shutting down when supplies are tight. The highest alert level, Stage 3, can trigger rolling blackouts.

The California ISO declared several Stage 3 emergencies during the 2000-01 power crisis and at times was forced to order rolling blackouts.

Temperatures reached triple digit levels in many inland areas Tuesday, sparking heavy use of air conditioning systems.

The Weather Channel was forecasting even hotter weather today with cities such as Fresno seen reaching 106 degrees, well above its normal high at this time of year of 96 degrees.

Much of the demand for power Tuesday was centered on the southern half of the state and Rosemead-based utility Southern California Edison reported that load in its control area reached a record 20,518 megawatts, eclipsing SCE's previous record of 20,144 megawatts set July 20.

SCE is a unit of Edison International.

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