Friday, August 26, 2005

More Blackouts

The loss of a transmission line combined with moderately high heat led to rolling blackouts in Southern California.
Temperatures that hovered around 100 in inland areas and reached 94 in Los Angeles had created increased demand of about 1,500 megawatts. A megawatt is enough power to serve about 750 homes.

The demand crisis was exacerbated by the sudden loss of power from a transmission line originating in southern Oregon, officials said.

A transformer in California that converts the power took itself offline automatically at 3:56 p.m. when an oil flow alarm went off, said Carol Tucker, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which co-owns the line.

The converter station, in Sylmar about 25 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, is capable of distributing 2,250 megawatts of power. It was operating at half capacity Thursday evening, and an inspection was under way to determine if the transformer could be fixed, Tucker said.

The emergency order from the ISO caused SoCal Edison to reduce demand by 800 megawatts throughout its territory. The ISO asked San Diego to shed 100 megawatts.

The loss of transmittion clearly exceeded the increased demand from the heat. Perhaps it is time to pay more attention to the advice by Vernon Smith on deregulating transmission in OpinionJournal.


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