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California Electricity Situation Eases Slightly to Level Two Emergency

Aired January 12, 2001 - 1:04 p.m. ET

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

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: California is not so cold as Chicago, but certainly it has its own problems. The biggest problem: electricity. Bad weather has made the state's power shortage even worse, and people are being urged to turn off extra lights and appliances again today.

With more now, here's San Francisco Bureau Chief Greg Lefevre -- Greg.

GREG LEFEVRE, CNN SAN FRANCISCO BUREAU CHIEF: Good morning, Natalie. The situation in California is we're back to Stage Two emergency. it's not as bad as yesterday. California is down to within about 5 percent of using all of its electrical generating capacity. Yesterday, it was Stage Three. The next thing beyond that is rolling blackouts. In other words, we're just about out to max.

Overnight, several extra plants came on duty here in California and the California Independent Service Operator that distributes electricity around the state of California says we escaped the blackouts last night. This morning, we got through the early peak hours. We're finished with those now, and we're settling into a Stage Two. Again, only about a 5 percent margin -- Natalie.

ALLEN: So, rolling blackouts -- have you been through that before, Greg?

LEFEVRE: We have not had rolling blackouts yet. We've always managed to dodge that bullet. But a rolling blackout is a dangerous thing. Utilities are forced to shut off sections of their customers an hour at a time, and by shut-off we mean it goes dark. When you look on your electric bill it says which block you're on, and eventually you will be notified when it's your turn -- Natalie.

ALLEN: It's amazing, people having to live through that. Greg Lefevre, we know there's immediate answer to that problem, and now we've got the weather to deal with.

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