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The BBC's Patrick O'Connell
"The reports from California say that the shortfall is the equivalent of supplying power to two million homes"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 9 May, 2001, 01:16 GMT 02:16 UK
Heat forces California blackouts
Windfarm in Palm Springs, California
California's windmills are not making up the difference
California energy officials ordered rolling blackouts for a second consecutive day - and the sixth this year - as record-high temperatures increased energy demand, causing a severe power shortage which threatened to topple the electricity grid.


We've exhausted everything we could and unfortunately the load has continued to climb

ISO spokesman
The power cuts lasted for about two hours and hit 300,000 homes.

California's Independent System Operator (ISO) has warned that matters are unlikely to improve on Wednesday.

The state is facing a shortfall in power supply because of increased demand for air-conditioning power and because four power plants are off-line for pre-summer maintenance.

"We are experiencing record temps, so a third day of residual heat should be challenging," an ISO spokeswoman said.

An operator at the California Independent System Operator
ISO does not expect matters to improve soon
The ISO operates most of the state's power grid.

Flaws in a 1996 energy deregulation scheme pushed several major utilities to the brink of insolvency, as the prices they could charge consumers were capped while their own costs rose.

The state stepped in to guarantee power delivery, but government intervention is only a temporary solution.

Monday saw the California state assembly approve a plan to sell $13.4bn in bonds to pay for electricity during the crisis.

The state's severe energy crisis is also partly the result of an ageing electrical system unable to keep pace with the demands of the state's 34 million residents.

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See also:

08 May 01 | Business
Crisis-hit state turns to bond issue
01 May 01 | Business
Is there a US energy crisis?
01 May 01 | Americas
Cheney warns of power shortages
08 Apr 01 | Business
Bankrupt US utility in bonus row
06 Apr 01 | Business
US power giant files for bankruptcy
02 Feb 01 | Americas
California approves power plan
18 Jan 01 | Americas
California blackout: Why it happened
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