Keeping the Lights On in California

California electricity consumers have themselves to thank for the fact that their lights stayed on during the summer of 2001, claims a new study, despite dire predictions of rolling blackouts. Even though temperatures were almost indistinguishable from those of the disastrous previous summer—and the economy actually grew during the period— electricity service was not significantly ...

09/01/2002


California electricity consumers have themselves to thank for the fact that their lights stayed on during the summer of 2001, claims a new study, despite dire predictions of rolling blackouts. Even though temperatures were almost indistinguishable from those of the disastrous previous summer—and the economy actually grew during the period— electricity service was not significantly disrupted.

The study, completed by the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, concludes that consumers reduced peak demand by 3,000 to 5,500 MW by installing more energy-efficient equipment and embracing conservation measures.

The North American Electric Reliability Council had predicted in April 2001 that Californians would face about 250 hours of rolling blackouts during that upcoming summer, with costs ranging up to $20 billion. Instead, a combination of factors—including increased media awareness, rising energy prices and utility and state efficiency programs—led consumers to install more energy-efficient equipment and on-site generation, as well as to modify their consumption habits.

California had programs in place to encourage efficiency, says the study, fostering consumer energy conservation. For example, the state of California rebated 20% on electricity bills if consumers achieved a 20% reduction in electricity use—an offer renewed this past summer. A willingness to make energy reductions a priority through initiatives such as this one will make future cutbacks easier if a similar crisis arises, researchers say.

From Pure Power, Fall 2002





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