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Electricity flex alert lifted for weekend, but conservation urged [Updated]

August 10, 2012 | 11:27 am

San Onofre

The energy flex alert ordered for this weekend has been shortened by the California Independent System Operator, although the agency is still asking customers to conserve energy.

The grid operator originally called a flex alert that would run from Friday through Sunday because of extreme heat and plant outages that have put a strain on the system. The alert remains in place for Friday but has been lifted for Saturday and Sunday.

During the alert, customers are asked to scale back energy use during the peak hours of 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., setting thermostats at 78 degrees or higher, turning off unnecessary lights and appliances, and restricting use of major appliances to the morning and late evening.

[Updated at 11:38 a.m.: California ISO spokeswoman Stephanie McCorkle said the statewide alert was called off for the weekend because temperatures had been slightly lower than predicted on Thursday. Peak demand for Thursday had been projected as high as 47,125 megawatts, but the actual peak use was 45,325 megawatts. McCorkle attributed the difference to about 900 megawatts in conservation and lower than forecast temperatures in Southern CA, especially along the coast.]

The alert was called because of a combination of record temperatures and outages at two major power plants. The San Onofre nuclear plant has been offline for more than six months due to equipment problems, taking about 2,200 megawatts of energy off the grid.

Then a generating unit at the Ormond Beach gas-fired plant in Ventura County went offline Wednesday night because of an electrical fire, removing another 775 megawatts from the system.

Utilities, including San Onofre's operator Southern California Edison and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, called for conservation but have not instituted rolling blackouts.

Heat waves can also put a strain on electrical equipment that is working overtime, leading to unplanned outages, but Edison spokesman David Song said the utility had not yet seen any outages that appear to be related to the heat wave.

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-- Abby Sewell

Photo: Problems at San Onofre have contributed to energy drain. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

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