Article Style: Smart Business
Teaser head: Hot Today, Hotter Tomorrow
Teaser Blurb: The National Weather Service predicts hotter than normal temperatures for
California this summer – just what the state doesn’t need in the midst of an electricity crisis.
Title: Californians Brace For A Long, Hot Summer
Summary: California consumers must step up to the plate and conserve because the state can’t
count on cool weather this summer.
Pullquote: “We are calling for above-normal temperatures, mainly in Southern California and
Arizona, with fairly high confidence attached to that forecast.” -- Ed O’Lenic, chief of
operations, Climate Prediction Center, National Weather Service
Will the lights go out in California this summer? The Golden State is doing all it can to increase
electricity generation and reduce demand, but those efforts might fall short if Cal gets a heat
In March, the California Independent System Operator (California ISO), the nonprofit in charge
of managing the state’s electricity flow, ordered electrical emergencies that resulted in
curtailment of power for about 500,000 homes and businesses. These were the state’s first rolling
blackouts since January.
March’s blackouts were prompted by several factors. The California ISO reports that 12,000
megawatts of generation were not available due to planned and unplanned power plant
maintenance, and about half the state’s small, independent power generators were not producing
power. (Many independents are financially strapped and can’t purchase natural gas to run their
Higher-than-normal temperatures also played a role, a trend the National Weather Service
expects to continue through the summer.
“We are calling for above-normal temperatures, mainly in Southern California and Arizona, with
fairly high confidence attached to that forecast,” says Ed O’Lenic, chief of operations, Climate
Prediction Center, Silver Spring, Md.-based National Weather Service.
“This is based on a long-standing trend toward increasing temperatures in the Southwest, and it
turns out that the Southwest is the one place in the country where this trend is strongest.”
To help meet the state’s electricity demand, California utilities are asking their customers to
conserve energy both at home and at work.
“What’s really going to help get us through this is consumers doing their part -- redoubling their
efforts to save electricity,” says John Tremayne, spokesman, San Francisco-based PG&E.
Measures like limiting major appliance use to off peak hours or turning off lights and electronic
equipment when not in use make a difference in maintaining operating reserves.
Even cooking in microwave ovens or toaster ovens instead of conventional ovens helps.
And commercial building owners are being urged to develop plans for emergency energy
reduction that include changing operating hours, geographic consolidation of personnel or
revising building cleaning and security procedures to save electricity.
Everyone acknowledges, however, that the real test for energy conservation will come this
summer, when customers must moderate those energy-hogging air conditioners.
“We’re not talking about a level of discomfort,” says Rozanne Weissman, director, Marketing,
Washington, D.C.-based The Alliance to Save Energy. “Just changing the temperature on your
thermostat by a few degrees means much less energy used.”
Weissman hails California Gov. Gray Davis’ plan to give power bill rebates for customers who
make significant cuts in electricity, “That’s smart. It’s a way to reward people financially for
doing the right thing -- it’s certainly quicker than building power plants.”
And if Californians don’t step up to the plate and conserve electricity, it’s going to be long, hot
“Conservation is critical,” says Tremayne. “If we all do our part, hopefully we can prevent the
implementation of rotating block outages.”
For additional content on this topic, don’t miss:
California Public Utilities Commission<http://www.cpuc.ca.gov>
California Power Exchange<http://www.calpx.com>
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission<http://www.ferc.gov>
The Alliance to Save Energy<http://www.ase.org>
National Weather Service<http://www.nws.noaa.gov>