California agency says hot summer in 2001 could produce power shortage

Nov. 22, 2000—If California experiences extremely hot weather next summer, electricity demand could exceed supply by 915 MW, says the California Energy Commission.

Otherwise, the state should have enough power to meet its electricity demand next summer , the energy commission says in a report released Monday. The report by the agency responsible for approving construction of new generation appears to conflict with projections of an 8,000 MW shortage during peak summer 2001 demand by the California Independent System Operator (ISO), the agency responsible for running the California electricity grid.

“With new resources coming on-line and new conservation measures taking effect, next summer looks better than expected, if we manage our resources properly,” Steve Larson, executive director of the energy commission, said in a prepared statement.

The analysis indicates under the “most likely” temperature conditions, next year’s electricity peak demand will be 47,266 MW. Operating reserve requirements add an additional 2,200-3,000 MW demand in order to provide a 7% margin, raising the generation needed to a minimum of 50,303 MW. The energy commission projects 52,579 MW will be available, including 1,222 MW in excess capacity from the Los Angeles control area.

However, when the reserve margin falls to 7%, the ISO ordinarily calls a Stage 1 electrical emergency; at 5% or less, it calls a Stage 2 emergency and asks interruptible load customers to begin turning off power.

If California experiences a warmer than normal summer, the energy commission forecasts a peak of 48,845 MW. With a 7% operating reserve margin, total demand rises to 51,882 MW. Under this scenario, the energy commission has projected total supply will equal 52,550 MW, including 898 MW from the Los Angeles control area.

Should the state experience extremely hot temperatures, which the commission rates at 1 in 10 chances of happening, demand, including a 7% reserve margin, could exceed supply by 915 MW.

The energy commission is estimating existing generation totals 45,025 MW and 1,849 MW will be available from newly completed plants. It projects imports from outside California, including California-controlled resources, will total 6,100 MW. Curtailable load is a projected 2,150 MW and the commission included 2,500 MW as an allowance for outages. Imports available from the Los Angeles control area vary according to temperature.

The forecast assumes California demand is growing at 2%/year. It was prepared as part of a response to legislation enacted in September.

Since electricity restructuring occurred in March 1998, the energy commission has approved six power plant projects with a combined generation capacity of 4,708 MW. In addition, another 15 electricity generating projects totaling over 7,000 MW worth more than $4 billion are being considered for licensing.