January 18, 2001 9:38 a.m.
the lights on:
An ongoing report of local power conditions
Rolling blackouts hit Palo Alto
Statewide emergency finally leads
to outage orders
by Don Kazak
Several Palo Alto neighborhoods lost power for
about an hour Wednesday afternoon as rolling blackouts were put
in motion to conform with a statewide edict.
"We were told we had to reduce our power by 4.1
percent," said Linda Clerkson, public affairs manager for the Palo
Alto Utilities Department.
The state's Independent System Operator (ISO), which controls the
statewide power grid, declared a Stage Three alert at 1:45 a.m.
Wednesday, when state power reserves dropped below 1.5 percent of
the system's capacity.
The blackouts were instituted at noon, but then lifted at 2 p.m.
While there was a chance that the rolling blackouts would begin
again at 6 p.m. Wednesday, the ISO was able to buy enough electricty
from other sources to avoid that. But a Stage Three alert was reinstituted
again at midnight.
Gov. Gray Davis also signed an emergency order Wednesday night
authorizing the state to buy power to avoid future shortages.
When rolling blackouts are triggered by the ISO, Palo Alto is told
how much of its electricity consumption has to be reduced. It's
up to the city to determine how to do that.
The city is divided into 20 "blocks" on its power grid, numbered
sequentially. Each block in turn goes dark, and then moves to the
back of the rotation. For a list of the blocks and the order of
a rolling blackout, see www.cpau.com,
the Website for the Utilities Department. That page also has a place
to click to determine which block any address is in.
Block 7 on the city's grid lost power at noon Wednesday. That includes
several neighborhoods in the northern and central part of the city,
from Crescent Park to Midtown. At 1 p.m. Block 14 and part of Block
13 were taken off the grid. That includes Green Acres, Monroe Park,
part of Charleston Meadows and part of College Terrace.
The next block on the rotation, as of Thursday morning, is Block
12, which includes part of Stanford Research Park.
The state's continuing energy crisis is caused by some power plants
being offline because of maintenance or other problems. The Stage
Three alerts may continue until more power plants are built in the
state, Clerkson said.
In addition to checking the Utility Department Web site during
a Stage Three alert, residents can call (650) 496-6914 for information
on the areas affected.