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Californians Must Conserve Power When Illuminating Holiday Season

Aired December 6, 2000 - 2:19 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Folks trying to get into the holiday spirit with light displays are finding this year less merry and bright, as Tim Herrera (ph) of our affiliate KCRA reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TIM HERRERA, KCRA REPORTER (voice-over): Cheryl Lutz has big holiday decorating plans for her Sacramento home: 30 strands of light, homemade light trees and, despite using a lot of juice, Cheryl will also try to be energy conscious.

CHERYL LUTZ, RESIDENT: My regular little garden lights are on a timer to go on around 6:00 and go off at 11:00, so I'll attach it to that.

HERRERA: But power suppliers want Christmas light users to do more. The California Independent System Operator or Cal-ISO, which runs the electricity system for 75 percent of the state wants people to light less this season.

KELLAN FLUCKIGER, CALIFORNIA INDEPENDENT SYSTEM OPERATOR: I don't want the ISO to be the Grinch that stole anything.

HERRERA: Cal-ISO has issued a power warning, saying reserves are low, with a number of power-supplying plants off-line for repairs, the system operator is asking people to refrain from clicking on their Christmas lights until after 7:00 p.m.

FLUCKIGER: If people could delay turning them on until after 7:00, after that period, that would be a voluntary effort that would be helpful.

HERRERA: The ISO made several similar conservation calls during the heat of the summer. But directors say they wouldn't warn the public unless it was absolutely necessary.

FLUCKIGER: We do make the appeal for voluntary conservation during the three peek hours; and those that can do it, do it. And those that are not able to don't.

SMUD is also asking its customers to turn on Christmas lights later to ease the potential stress on its system. GREG FISHMAN, SACRAMENTO MUNICIPAL UTILITIES DEPARTMENT: Each individual string is not that much; but across SMUD service territory across the state, it does add up.

HERRERA: The ISO estimates that all Christmas lights in the state collectively use enough power to power to light 1 million homes. Suppliers insist, if more people conserve power between 4:00 and 7:00 p.m., it reduces the risk that some Californians could spend part of their Christmas season in the dark.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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