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California Declares Stage Three Power EmergencyAired January 11, 2001 - 2:18 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: Those who monitor California's power grid say the situation is going to get even uglier because of that Stage Three power alert. For more on what Californians can expect, let's check in with our San Francisco bureau chief, Greg Lefevre -- Greg.
GREG LEFEVRE, CNN SAN FRANCISCO BUREAU CHIEF: Hi, Lou. Well, isn't California just a wonderful place for people to live? Certainly not this week. We are subject to possible rolling blackouts at about 4:00 local time. That's about a little over three and a half hours from now. And the reason why they've picked that time at the Independent Service Operators is that that's an overlap time between people working here downtown in their businesses and folks going home and starting to cook, turning the heater on, things like that.
The Independent Service Operators now say that we are anticipated to be about 2,000 megawatts short of what we actually need to run the state. What that means is a possible shortage of about two million homes, and the rolling blackouts are a possibility. This third stage emergency is only the second time it's been declared here in California. That means that the state is within 1 1/2 percent of its absolute maximum on generating power.
And the reason why? You only have to look outside. It's cold. It's wet. Generators are shut down in part for maintenance. Down at Diablo Canyon, the nuclear power plant, they say kelp has clogged one of their intakes and they're shut that unit down. The cold weather means more people are heating more of their offices and more of their homes more often, and that means that electricity use is going up.
Also at the same time, natural gas -- let's see, I've got to fish it out over here. I got my utility bill just last night, and in this bill it says that the natural gas bill for my home, the natural gas amount has gone from $0.75 cents a therm to $1.50 a therm. In one month, the natural expense for a resident has gone up double.
Now, the same is affecting the power generators here in the West as well because more and more of these power plants are running on natural gas, and around the country, the natural gas suppliers know that they have a pretty tight market and they are raising the prices significantly on this, saying that they don't exactly have enough electrical -- natural gas to go around to power all these folks.
So, the advice for people going home in California today is when you leave your office, shut down things that don't absolutely need and when you go home, be very careful about what you turn on and conserve what you can tonight.
Lou, back to you in Atlanta.
WATERS: Doesn't sound good. Greg Lefevre in San Francisco.
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