May 10, 2001, 1:50 p.m.
Alto Weekly Online Edition
Palo Alto could avoid blackouts
Diesel generators could get city through the
by Geoff S. Fein
During a week in which portions of the Bay Area suffered
through another series of rolling blackouts, Palo Alto is finalizing
steps to ensure lights will remain on when the power is cut. The
city is installing four 1.3-megawatt diesel generators at the Municipal
Service Center. The systems could provide uninterrupted power if
Palo Alto is hit with outages this summer.
The generators will be operational by Monday.
"The utility is viewing this (getting the generators working) as
urgent," he said.
The generators will only be used when the city is ordered to cut
power by the California Independent System Operator (ISO), the agency
that oversees the state's transmission lines. Power during a Stage
3 blackout is cut in specific geographic regions for up to an hour
at a time. The generators will help to keep power flowing to those
"A good way is to view it as an insurance policy," said Richard
Ferguson, a member of the Utilities Advisory Commission.
The city estimates the generators will provide 2 percent of the
city's 200-megawatt load and reduce the need for utility customers
with diesel generators to run them during power outages.
The city will spend approximately $650,000 to lease the generators
for three months. Then the city plans to spend $3.5 million to buy
several natural gas generators that will provide 5-megawatts of
power. That system is scheduled to go online in August.
The cost of renting the three generators will be covered by slight
increases in utility bills: $1.10 per month for residential customers;
$26.34 per month for small commercial businesses; $775.23 a month
for medium-sized commercial businesses; and $5,701 per month for
large commercial customers.
The generators will be located at the Municipal Services Center
on East Bayshore Road near Pacific Gas & Electric's high-pressure
gas line and near a 12 kilovolt feeder line. <@endbullet>
E-mail Geoff S. Fein at email@example.com