Weather help relieves California electricity concerns

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, June 27, 2001 — Hotter than normal temperatures in California in July reinforces prospects of electricity blackouts there, but cooler weather in August and September could relieve the pressure on the state in late summer, an energy consulting firm said.

Energy Security Analysis Inc. (ESAI), Wakefield, Mass., said government imposed price cap regulations, lower outage levels, and now limited weather concerns, have already acted to deflate extreme wholesale price levels experienced during the last year.

Electricity prices fell to below $100/MW-hr in June despite temperatures of near 100°F in Sacramento and above normal temperatures in San Diego. Despite earlier forecasts of rolling outages, none were required to keep the grid intact.

“What this means is that generators in the California market have reacted by decreasing outage levels and increasing generation levels,” ESAI said.

Likewise, energy forecaster WSI Corp., Billerica, Mass., said its seasonal forecast includes a warmer-than-normal July, August, and September in the Northeast. ESAI said the prediction prolongs the possibility of system strains on high density areas such as New York City and Boston.

WSI seasonal forecaster Todd Crawford said the expectation of above-normal temperatures in the East and below-normal temperatures in the lower Mississippi Valley in July differs from its June 14 outlook that called for normal temperatures in those regions.

WSI Corp. said it now expects consistently above-normal temperatures in the Northeast from July through September. Cooler-than-normal temperatures are expected in the lower Mississippi Valley, the Gulf Coast states, Florida, and portions of the southern Plains. It said the rest of the country can expect near to slightly above-normal temperatures.

In July, cooler-than-normal temperatures are expected in the Ohio Valley, along the Gulf Coast, parts of the southern Plains and Southeast, WSI said. In August, warmer-than-normal temperatures are expected in most of the eastern half of the country, with the exception of the Gulf Coast states and Florida. The Pacific Northwest and California will be cooler-than-normal, while other areas of the country are expected to experience near-normal temperatures.

For September, WSI said it expects a continuation of warmer-than-normal temperatures in the East. Warmer-than-normal readings are also expected to emerge in the northern Plains states. Cooler-than-normal temperatures are expected in two distinct regions.

The first region includes California, the Pacific Northwest, and the northern Rockies. The second region includes the Gulf Coast states, Florida, the southern Plains, and the Southwest. Other regions are expected to experience near-normal temperatures, WSI said.