Making Sense of the Emergency Stages

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, July 25, 2006

It can get a little bit confusing keeping track of it all….so, here are the basics.  Stage 1 is when the power grid operators ask all of us to voluntarily reduce how much energy we use.   Stage 2 involves those customers who’ve signed up in advance, agreeing to allow service interruptions in exchange for a cheaper rate.  Only they would be affected – so you know who you are.  Stage 3 is when you get to the rolling blackouts….those obviously aren’t voluntary.  Yakout Mansour is President and CEO of the state’s independent system operator.  He says the point to the whole system is maintaining a power reserve:

“The operating reserve always has to be seven percent because you always have to be ready for the next event.  So whatever, if you find that we don’t’ have that much reserve, we cause curtailment either by voluntary means or forced means to get back to that level of seven percent.”

The last time California experienced rolling blackouts was 2001.