California governor orders more warning in advance of power blackouts |

California governor orders more warning in advance of power blackouts

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Californians will soon know at least a day in advance if power is likely to go out where they live or work, Gov. Gray Davis said Thursday.

The executive order Davis said he will issue in the next few days will require power grid managers to issue a warning 48 hours before they believe blackouts are likely. The Independent System Operator, keeper of the state’s power grid, will be required to give a 24-hour update, including naming which specific neighborhoods will be hit. A final warning will be issued an hour before the blackouts.

”If blackouts are going to occur, there’s no reason to keep the public in the dark,” Davis said. ”We’ve had as little as two minutes notice before blackouts. Now, a two-minute warning may work for the National Football League, but it won’t work for California consumers and businesses in this state.”

Beginning May 30, the ISO plans to issue warnings similar to weather advisories 24 hours before expected blackouts.

Until now, the ISO has refused to give more than a few minutes’ warning, saying it did not want to alarm people. The utilities have resisted giving warnings, saying they did not want to tip off burglars and other criminals.

Southern California Edison will comply with the governor’s request, said Brian Bennett, vice president of external affairs. The utility already notifies law enforcement and city officials when blackouts are possible, but will now also tell media and the public, he said.

”The ISO telling us rolling blackouts are possible 48 hours in advance is sketchy, but not unreliable,” said Bennett. ”The danger is, we do not want the public to become complacent when the alert is announced, but blackouts don’t happen.”

Californians have seen six days of rolling blackouts this year and have been warned to expect more as electricity demand peaks in the summer. The sudden nature of previous rolling blackouts was a major consumer complaint.

Because of the lack of notice, earlier rolling blackouts led to pileups at intersections suddenly left without stoplights, trapped people in elevators, and caused business losses by bringing production lines to a halt.

The advance warning will give law enforcement time to get to neighborhoods to direct traffic or increase patrols, Davis said.

”There may be days that despite our best efforts the dynamic nature of the California grid outpaces our efforts at communications,” said Michael Kahn, chairman of the ISO board of governors. ”We will do our best to minimize those days and we will always strive to keep the power on in California.”

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The California Independent System Operator:

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