August 25, 2005

ROSEMEAD, Calif., Aug. 25, 2005—With the restoration of the Pacific Intertie, a major transmission line between the Pacific Northwest and Southern California, the California Independent System Operator (Cal-ISO) at 4:35 p.m. directed Southern California Edison to restore power to the customers affected by rotating power outages implemented this afternoon.

Cal-ISO, the nonprofit agency that manages 75% of California's transmission power grid, directed SCE to curtail its interruptible customers and to reduce “firm” electrical load by approximately 800 megawatts shortly before 4 p.m. 

A megawatt is enough energy to power approximately 650 homes.

The rotating outages were implemented after the intertie, operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, tripped off line.  After the loss of the intertie, SCE was directed to immediately reduce the demand for electricity in Southern California, necessitating a series of controlled rotating power outages within its service area to prevent a potential widespread disturbance to California's electric transmission grid.

Shortly after 5 p.m., “interruptible” customers who had their service curtailed also were restored.  In exchange for a reduced electricity rate, interruptible customers voluntarily agree to have portions of their electrical service curtailed in times of electrical emergency.

This was being accomplished by taking groups of circuits out of service on a rotating basis. The outages affected approximately 246,000 customers in small portions of several cities, among them Long Beach, Santa Barbara, Irvine, Chino Hills, Palm Desert, Torrance, and San Bernardino.  Additionally, approximately 163,000 interruptible customers also were affected.

Often referred to as "rolling blackouts," the controlled outages generally last up to one hour for affected customers, but can be shorter or longer in duration, depending upon circumstances.

Throughout the emergency, the public was advised to:

  • Exercise extreme caution, especially at intersections where traffic signals may not be functioning; 
  • Avoid using elevators anywhere during this Stage 3 Emergency;
  • Do not call 911 due to a power interruption; 
  • Check on the medical needs of family and friends;
  • Use flashlights, not candles, if you are without lights; 
  • Turn off all electrical equipment in use at the time of a service interruption, including sensitive electronic components; 
  • Leave one light bulb turned on to signal that power has been restored; and, 
  • If possible, monitor radio and television news stations to stay informed of developments and safety instructions.

With power reserves still low, SCE is encouraging all consumers and businesses to reduce their power use at this time by keeping their air conditioning thermostats set no lower than 78 degrees, reducing office lighting, and using nonessential business equipment and home appliances (e.g., clothes washers/dryers, and dishwashers) in the morning or evening when demand for power is lower. 

Following are other effective ways customers can cut their power use and not be greatly inconvenienced:

  • close drapes and blinds to keep out direct sunlight during hot periods;
  • use electric fans instead of air conditioning if practical;
  • avoid using evaporative coolers or humidifiers at the same time an air conditioner is running; 
  • operate swimming pool equipment during early morning and evening hours; and
  • limit the opening and reopening of refrigerators, which are major users of electricity in most homes.

# # #

An Edison International company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of more than 13 million via 4.7 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within central, coastal and Southern California.