California expects adequate electricity supplies for next summer

The California Energy Commission Tuesday predicted the state would have adequate supplies of electricity next summer if planned power plants are built and current levels of conservation continue.

The commission study projected electricity supplies and demand over the next 9 months. While the report assumes that the market will function normally, it said price spikes continue to be a concern if electricity supplies are tight.

The commission said, “Energy conservation efforts by consumers and businesses played a critical role in helping the state avoid blackouts this past summer. Clearly the state’s $800 million investment in energy efficiency, including the voluntary conservation efforts achieved through the Governor’s Flex Your Power public awareness campaign and 20/20 utility rebate program, were key contributors to reducing electricity demand last summer.

“If summer 2002 conservation efforts stay the same or decline only moderately, the state should have adequate electricity supplies to meet demand.”

The commission said July may be the most challenging month. It predicted a surplus of 340 Mw, including new generation of 4,000 Mw expected on line by July 2002. In an emergency declared by the Independent System Operator, another 1,700 Mw could be available from large users participating in interruptible/emergency demand responsive programs.

The report noted that the statewide study does not address local area reliability issues. “Problems with transmission line congestion and generation in a specific region could result in constrained supplies and local distribution problems.”

The Joint Legislative Audit Committee required the study and will hold a hearing on it Nov. 26.

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