FOLSOM, Calif., June 1, 2004 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Blackouts may not be in the forecast for this summer, but the California Independent System Operator (California ISO) says conservation may still play an important role in keeping the power flowing in California. An early end to winter and a jump on dry conditions and high temperatures this spring results in hydroelectric conditions far short of ideal going into this summer. California’s appetite for electricity is also tracking close to four percent above last year at this time, which means demand is up at a time when resources may not be plentiful.
“Hydroelectricity plays a pivotal role in maintaining healthy operating reserve levels in the summer. The concern is that the remaining snow pack and expected runoff is about half of normal throughout the California watersheds and much of the region outside of California. Depending on how hot it is early in the summer, we might not have much hydro-power left by the end of the season,” said California ISO Vice President of Operations Jim Detmers.
If a heat wave hits at the same time a big power plant or transmission line trips off line, conservation becomes critical. As the holiday weekend and the start of summer approaches, the ISO is working with local utilities, the news media and various state agencies to ensure effective communication channels are in place.
“We know from our experience during the energy crisis that the public can and will reduce their energy usage when asked,” said Director of Communications Stephanie McCorkle. “What we are doing now is making sure we are prepared and can communicate quickly with the public to give them the opportunity to respond.”