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Northern California Suffers Rolling BlackoutsAired January 17, 2001 - 4:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We go to our Greg Lefevre who is in San Francisco. He has more on the rolling blackouts that are now in place in California.
Greg, what can you tell us?
GREG LEFEVRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's dark in a lot of places in northern California, Kyra; we will tell you who's darked. Pacific Gas and Electric has been ordered to shut down customers -- perhaps 5,000 at a time, and rolling black outs -- the first time this has ever happened.
The tourist area around Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 is reported dark. San Francisco's historic neighborhood, the Haight-Ashbury District, is also without electricity at the moment. The ethnic neighborhoods around Mission -- many people know those areas, are also dark. Silicon Valley has been hit. Sections of Cupertino and San Jose are also in the dark, as well as farther south. The area around Santa Cruz and Capitola, a favorite local resort area, is also in the dark.
What happens? A one-hour blackout strikes these areas, predetermined by outage block number, a program that's been in place about five or six years. Right now, it has blocked three, so if you are watching in northern California and you live in block four, chances are you'll go dark pretty soon; block five: perhaps an hour from now.
In theory, each area goes dark for an hour, and then the next area is switched off while the first one is switched on. That overlap takes about a half an hour. And then we progress through the day until the state has enough electricity to feed everybody, and the problem is, right now, the state does not.
California has not built a power plant in 10 years, yet the state has grown dramatically. The electric use has gone up 10 percent just in the last year. The area right now just involves Pacific Gas and Electric customers here in northern California. Though, we were warned by the state's electrical authority that the entire state can be affected by the end of the day.
Kyra, we will keep you updated as the day goes on. Back to you in Atlanta. PHILLIPS: Greg, the last that I heard, it was 9:00 p.m. Pacific time, midnight Eastern time, that this was going to continue. Is that still true?
LEFEVRE: That is exactly the plan. And why 9:00 p.m.? As it turns out, we're not getting enough electricity in the state from out of state. Areas north of us, Oregon and Washington, normally provide hydroelectric power down to California when the need comes up. However, those states are now reluctant to supply additional electricity; one, because they need it themselves -- their populations have grown; two, it's been dry up there, and they don't have as much water behind their dams as they once did.
Also, some electrical generation companies are reluctant to sell to Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison, because both of those companies are on the verge of bankruptcy -- Kyra
PHILLIPS: All right, Greg Lefevre from San Francisco. Thank you so much.
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