Page last updated
2001 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
- Weather Outlook for Winter 2001-2002
This preliminary outlook at the upcoming winter is by no means meant to be
the final forecast. It looks, on a whole, east of the Rockies to be a colder winter than
last year with the core of the cold farther east, perhaps over the Appalachians. In
addition, the areas that should see the most snow in relation to their seasonal averages
should be the areas that suffered (if you are a snow goose) the lack of snow last year,
mainly the mid-Atlantic states and southern Appalachians. Snowfall forecasts farther
northwest get tricky. I am inclined to believe we will see less than normal amounts in the
northern Plains and northern Rockies and above-normal amounts of snow and ICE in Texas
(again). Last year we had nasty radiational freeze deep into South Florida, another area
that was colder than average. This year we will watch closely the antics of November as
that is often a tell-tale sign of a winter with an advective freeze. I have a great fear
for that this year. Computer modelling this year has also been strongly hinting at cold in
the northeastern quarter of the country, more so than last year.
AccuWeather - Joe Bastardi, October 14, 2001. For the
complete text of this article click
- Summer of blackouts averted
California's latest blackout was May 8. That was a far cry from the
31 days predicted. A conservation program, mild temperatures and a lackluster
economy that have lessened demands on the power grid appeared to have saved the day.
In the past two months, four large power plants and two smaller ones for peak
electrical use have opened. But with another month of potentially hot weather and
heavy air-conditioner use, "We're not out of the woods yet," says Gregg Fishman,
spokesman for California's Independent System Operator. A lingering question,
however, is whether the crisis is over or merely postponed. "The pieces are in
place to solve this problem, but whether they will all actually happen remains to be
seen," Mr. Fishman said.
The Washington Times, August 22, 2001.
- California ISO projects May through September shortfalls
(Click thumbnail image to enlarge)
With summer approaching, the California Independent System Operator (ISO) is predicting
major electricity shortfalls for most of the state from May through September. The
forecast shows the largest shortfall in June of 6,815 MW during peak loads, enough
electricity to power roughly 6.8 million homes. The projected capacity needed within
the ISO control area will be 49,462 MW but there will be only 41,500 MW available.
In a February 1 assessment of summer resources, CEO Terry Winter outlined a bleak picture
for California Gov. Gray Davis's newly appointed ISO board. Compared to last summer,
the state has less hydroelectric to draw on; less imports; less power from special purpose
plants, also known as qualifying facilities; and no interruptible load.
K. Thomas, Oil & Gas Journal Online (www.ogjonline.com), as
reported in Electric Light & Power, March 2001.
- Bush warns of looming energy crisis
The Bush administration said yesterday the nation faces
critical shortages of electricity, natural gas and refined gasoline that could cause
further price spikes and California-like power outages. The administration says
similar power outages could occur in New York City and Long Island this summer, and cause
electricity reliability problems in the Midwest. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham
says that to accommodate an estimated 45 percent increase in demand for electricity ... in
the next 20 years, the United States would have to overcome environmental objections and
build from 65 to 90 new power plants each year. Yet the country hasn't built so many
power plants since 1985.
The Washington Times, March 20, 2001.
- Bush aids fear California blackouts could spread to other states
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham told a Senate hearing that
the administration is trying to find ways to increase power supplies in the West, where
prices have soared because of shortages. "The problem will get worse, and blackouts
this summer appear inevitable," Mr. Abraham said. The administration's hope is that
"California doesn't start a wave of blackouts that go beyond its borders," he
said. He gave the administration's strongest declaration to date against imposing price
controls. "Let me be clear on this," he told a hearing on price-control
legislation. "Any action we take must either help increase supply or reduce demand.
... Price caps will not increase supply or reduce demand."
AP as reported in The Washington Times, March 16, 2001.
- Neighboring states may feel California's power shortage
As Californians brace for a summer of anticipated power
shortages experts are warning their neighbors in states across the West to be ready for
the possibility of having to share the pain. Natural gas supplies are tight,
reservoirs are low and a heat wave could drive up demand for electricity.
Washington, Oregon, Idaho and western Montana depend heavily on hydroelectric power.
But this year the Bonneville Power Administration has been forced to draw down its
reservoirs to operate hydroelectric generators to sell power to California. And the
snow pack in the Cascade range this year is only 60 percent of normal. Less runoff
means less water refilling reservoirs to power turbines. Bonneville is the federal
administration that operates dams that supply roughly half the power for utilities in
Oregon, Washington, Idaho and western Montana. Because other states in the West are
linked through their common power grid, there is the potential that problems also could
affect Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.
AP as reported in The Washington Times, February 27, 2001.
- California remains in a Stage 3 power alert for a fourth week
California regulators headed back to court yesterday to try
to force major power suppliers to keep selling electricity to the state. The federal
order requiring suppliers to keep selling the state power expired on February 6 and was
not renewed. The state of California has been spending $40 million to $50 million
daily since mid-January to buy power for Edison and PG&E customers. Many experts
are warning that the situation will not get better for months -- maybe longer.
Various news sources, February 8, 2001.
- Californians face third day of blackouts
The energy crisis widened in California as continuing
blackouts were threatened for a third day. And refiners in the state warned that
further electricity disruptions affecting a major pipeline feeding fuel to the state will
force them to shut down -- a move that would soon create shortages at the gas pump. Mr.
Clinton invoked emergency powers given to the president under the Natural Gas Policy Act
of 1978 to prevent the disruption of supplies needed to heat homes and fuel power plants
in California. The immediate cause of the natural gas "shortage" is the
reluctance of companies to sell about a third of the natural gas used by the Pacific Gas
& Electric utility because it recently earned a "junk" credit rating by
missing billions of dollars in payments. California's two largest utilities have been
caught in a bind between the exorbitant prices they are paying for wholesale power and the
low rates the state requires them to charge consumers. In a perverse spiral, the
prices the utilities are charged have been going higher and higher with each drop in their
The Washington Times, January 20, 2001.
- 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.