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More Blackouts Ordered in Calif.

January 21, 2001

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ Areas of Northern California were blacked out Sunday after demand for electricity overwhelmed power grid operators for the third day in less than a week.

The outages, affecting up to 75,000 customers in the Sacramento, Roseville, Turlock and Modesto areas, lasted about 20 minutes.

The Independent System Operator _ which manages 80 percent of the state’s electricity grid _ earlier had declared a Stage 3 alert through Monday, an unprecendent action on weekends when demand usually eases.

Stage 3 alerts are announced when reserves dipped below 1.5 percent and allow the grid operators to impose rolling blackouts to cope with demand.

The blackouts ordered Wednesday and Thursday had affected many more customers.

The alerts were prompted by tight supplies and power plants that were idled for maintenance or repairs. The alerts were accompanied by urgent requests for Californians to conserve energy.

``Apparently suppliers need to see we’re in a Stage 3, because those resources are needed in the (Pacific) Northwest,″ said ISO spokeswoman Stephanie McCorkle.

``Californians really need to be conserving as we try to get through this crisis, because other states are definitely sharing their megawatts with us,″ she added.

The ISO had hoped for a reprieve from the emergency over the weekend, when power needs generally drop by 2,000 megawatts.

Blackouts imposed Wednesday and Thursday in northern and central California darkened hundreds of thousands of homes and business for up to two hours. The state avoided another round of blackouts on Friday and Saturday.

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