State Again Faces Critical Energy Shortfall; Cal-ISO, SCE Urge Curtailment, Conservation

March 19, 2001

March 19, 2001

ROSEMEAD, Calif., March 19, 2001-The California Independent System Operator (Cal-ISO) and Southern California Edison are urging customers to step up their electricity conservation efforts as the state faces another day of critically low power reserves.

Cal-ISO said a Stage 2 Emergency, signifying power reserves are at less than 5%, is in effect for Monday between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight.  Cal-ISO attributed the energy shortfall to limited power imports and approximately 11,500 megawatts of California generation being offline or limited.

Cal-ISO, the nonprofit agency that manages 75% of California's transmission power grid and secures power supplies for most of the state's consumers, could call upon SCE and other utilities to activate their "interruptible" load curtailment programs under which customers, in exchange for lower rates, voluntarily interrupt their service during electrical emergencies.

Businesses, especially industrial and large commercial customers, can help the situation by reducing office lighting, turning off all auxiliary or redundant machinery where possible, and by shifting or staggering operations, if possible.

Although rotating circuit interruptions or "rolling blackouts" are not predicted at this time, SCE reminds its customers of the need to take safety precautions during any power outage.  SCE recommends the following measures:

  • Exercise extreme caution, especially at intersections where traffic signals may not be functioning; 
  • 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.

Should the situation worsen, a Stage 3 Emergency could be declared.  A Stage 3 Emergency signifies that reserves are at less than 1.5%.  With a Stage 3 declaration, Cal-ISO can receive emergency assistance from state and federal agencies or direct utilities to "drop load," necessitating involuntary rotating outages for groups of customers across SCE's service area until sufficient power reserve levels are achieved.

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An Edison International company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation's largest electric utilities, serving a population of more than 11 million via 4.3 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within central, coastal and Southern California