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2000 Outage News
The North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) compiles reports
on outages. Click to go to their web site for a list of outages sorted by year.
The following is a list of news summaries of major power outages and related
stories as reported in the media for this time period. The most recent are listed
- Second ice storm causes more outages in southern Plains
Ice and snow across the southern Plains since Sunday have
brought down power lines and cut electricity to more than 590,000 homes and businesses.
In some places, people had no telephone or water service either. For some
this is the second time in two weeks. An earlier ice storm knocked out power to more
than 250,000 customers in Arkansas on Dec. 12-13. Entergy Arkansas said it could be
Jan. 5 before all power is restored to its customers. Lights were also out for
120,000 people in Oklahoma; 106,000 in Texas; and 50,000 in Louisiana. Some of the
outages were caused after metal transmission towers collapsed under the weight of the ice.
The Washington Times, December 28, 2000.
- California power problems continue
Consumers in California are faced with a choice between power shortages and
skyrocketing electricity bills, while the state's utilities are veering toward bankruptcy
because of the astronomical prices they have to pay to import the energy needed to supply
the state. With a still regulated retail market with capped prices but a deregulated
wholesale market, the utilities are squeezed in the middle. This winter's record-high
prices for natural gas across the country are partly the result of a leap in demand for
gas from California utilities, which must use the clean-burning fuel to meet environmental
regulations. After meeting with federal officials Gov. Gray Davis said
"Deregulation of electricity has been a colossal failure so far. I am
confident, however, that we can manage our way through the problem by increasing
conservation and supply. Already, we have six plants under construction, which
equals the same total number of plants permitted and constructed in the last sixteen
years." California's largest utilities have requested rate increases of 10 to
30 percent so they can stave off bankruptcy. Otherwise they say they will have to
start rationing electricity. To make matters worse, many out-of-state utilities are
now reluctant to sell power to California utilities because of their teetering finances.
Some critics are even calling for a state buyout or the California power grid.
One customer states, "There can't be any real power shortage. There was
no shortage a year ago, not even close, and the state hasn't grown all that much in the
meantime. All that's changed is the ownership of the power plants.".
The Washington Times, December 27, 2000.
- California grid on verge of collapse
California was dealing with its fifth straight day of
electricity shortages due to heavy demand at a time when several of the region's power
plants were down for repairs. On Thrusday the state issued a Stage 3 emergency alert
and narrowly averted rolling blackouts. Stage 3 is declared when generation margins
are less than 1.5 percent.
Various news reports, December 9, 2000.
- California power emergency in 4th day
Power industry officials in California ordered some major commercial
customers to cut back on electricity and appealed to residents to do the same as a power
emergency was declared in the state for a fourth consecutive day. Some businesses
including chip manufacturer Intel faced the prospect of blackouts after officials declared
a Stage Two emergency again Thursday morning as they had the previous three days. A
Stage Two emergency means the state is down to its last 5 percent of reserve margin.
If margins dwindle to 1.5 percent a Stage Three is declared which would trigger
rolling blackouts. Gov. Gray Davis lit the state Christmas tree on Tuesday, but had
to pull the plug five minutes later to conserve energy. One-quarter of the power
system's generating capacity was down on Wednesday by 11,000 MW. Of that amount
4,000 MW were from plant breakdowns.
Derived from various sources including the CNN.com and AP,
December 7, 2000
- Detroit suffers second blackout in three months
A power outage on the city owned Detroit Public Lighting System occurred
again on August 31. Power was cut to schools, police and fire stations, other public
buildings, City Airport and street lights to avoid a repeat of the two-day blackout in
mid-June. A hospital also lost power in June. The city electrical system is
normally supplied power by three tie-lines to Detroit Edison. The June blackout
occurred when one of the lines failed and the city could not reduce power usage quick
enough to prevent a second cable from failing. The third then immediately tripped on
overload. Detroit Edison has many customers interspersed throughout the city and
these were unaffected.
Derived from various sources including the Detroit Free Press
and Utility Automation magazine, June-September, 2000.
- President orders cuts in power at agencies
President Clinton yesterday ordered federal agencies in California to cut
their power use by 5 percent and told the Federal Power Marketing Administrations to
maximize the amount of electricity available in the state.
Reuters New Agency as reported in the Washington Times, August
- California on verge of blackouts
After four days of temperatures over 100 degrees officials declared a Stage
Two power system emergency on Tuesday. Power was cut to hundreds of office buildings,
factories and colleges under pre-arranged agreements that kept the state's power demand
just below maximum limits. If the heat wave continues and consumption increases,
rolling blackouts will be implemented which could affect most customers. The crisis
is the sixth time this year that California has run precariously low on power.
Previously , it happened only once a year, if at all. For full story see California readies for blackouts,
USA Today, August 1, 2000
- ComEd begins paying for service interruptions
After several power outages in the Chicago area Commonwealth Edison has
agreed to pay its customers when it fails to live up to its commitment to reduce power
outages. Under the plan, qualifying residential and business customers will receive
compensation for outages exceeding eight hours, or if they experience three or more
outages of four or more hours in length in a two month period. Residential customers
would receive a check for $60 and business customers would receive a $100 credit on their
bill. If the outage lasts more than 12 hours the customer will be credited their
whole month's billing amount. The program only covers outages due to equipment
failures, overloading, excessive heat or personnel errors. It will not cover outages
caused by severe weather.
E L & P, June 2000
- The Y2K hurricane season starts June 1 and it's expected to be
Hurricane experts are predicting a period of intense hurricanes through the
next two decades. In the Atlantic the forecast for this year calls for 11 tropical storms
to reach wind velocities to earn them names. And of these, seven will grow to become
hurricanes. Three will be strong hurricanes. The names picked for the Atlantic storms this
season are: Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce,
Keith, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sandy, Tony, Valerie and William.
Various news reports, June 1, 2000
- New Rules, Demands Put Dangerous Strain on
The East Coast got a taste of whats coming when a surprise heat wave hit this week
just as many power plants were shut down for spring maintenance. Utilities and grid
operators temporarily cut voltages, called on big industry to conserve and asked
homeowners not to open their refrigerators too often. "There will be outages and
brownouts this summer," says Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. "America is super
power, but its got the grid of a Third World nation."
The numbers are stark.
The U.S. has generating plants capable of cranking out 780,000 megawatts in a
summers day. But it will take a minimum of 700,000 megawatts to power the nation
this summer. That leaves little surplus, and the power cant always get to where
its needed the most. The result: a national electricity system that is vulnerable to
disruptions caused by equipment breakdowns and human error.
The U.S. is generally well-wired, but some of the fastest-growing parts of the country,
such as San Diego, are virtual islands in the vast electricity grid. San Francisco, Long
Island and Florida all have inadequate links to larger regional electric networks. Mr.
Richardson says he doesnt even like identifying the regions at greatest risk because
hes afraid of "causing public panic."
[Note: This is a brief synopsis of a very comprehensive front
page article. We highly recommend reading the full version at your local library or if you
can find it elsewhere!]
Excerpts from The Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2000
Energy Secretary speaks of more summer power outages
On March 13 Energy Secretary Bill Richardson spoke to the National League
of Cities and expressed fears of more power outages this summer. He also believes
the solution to declining reliability is new laws at the federal level. Excerpts of
his remarks follow here. "Demand for electricity is soaring along with the use
of computers, fax machines and other appliances in homes and apartments, office towers and
factories. When temperatures rise so does electricity consumption, driven by the use of
fans and air conditioners. At the same time, the reliability of our
electric grids is, at times, faltering... Last year, many of you
suffered through a long, hot summer of brownouts, blackouts and tight supplies of
electricity. Chicago, New York and New Orleans were hardest hit, but it was a concern
across the country. We need mandatory reliability standards for
bulk-power systems. And the current system of voluntary reliability rules have not been as
effective as they should be during this transition to competitive markets. Making the
electric grid more reliable is a main reason I believe Congress needs to enact
comprehensive electricity restructuring legislation and do it soon. To do otherwise
is to risk history repeating. And that could mean more long, hot summers of outages
in America's cities."
Various news reports and DOE web site transcript, March 15, 2000
Killer tornadoes hit Southeast causing power outages
On February 13th and 14th more than a dozen tornadoes ripped through
Georgia and nearby states causing death, injury, destruction and power outages. If some
meteorologists have it correct, we may be in for many more this spring. This is
because history seems to show that in springs following La Niņa winters tornadoes are
more severe and numerous. La Niņa refers to cooler than normal waters at the
surface of the Pacific Ocean.
Various news reports, February 14, 2000
Storm hits East Coast causing power outages
A strong storm moved up the East Coast after hitting the Southeast with
ice and snow and causing power outages. After three days 12,000 Alabama residents
and 100,000 customers in Atlanta were still without power from an ice storm on Saturday.
That storm initially knocked out power to 1.8 million people. In North and
South Carolina more than 200,000 customers were without power Tuesday. The storm
dumped more than a foot of snow on many states in the Northeast.
Various news reports, January 25, 2000