California Warned of High Gas Bills and possible blackoutsgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
Wednesday November 15 8:04 PM ET California Warned of High Gas Bills
By COLLEEN VALLES, Associated Press Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Californians are getting a two-fold warning at the first sign of cold weather: The state says there may be blackouts and a major utility is warning of sharply higher bills.
As Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said natural gas prices could rise by as much as 50 percent next month, the state's power grid manager declared stage two emergencies Monday and Tuesday as energy reserves dropped below 5 percent. The state was short almost 12,000 megawatts, or enough power for about 12 million homes.
A stage three emergency usually results in rotating blackouts across the state, said Stephanie McCorkle, a spokeswoman for the Independent System Operator.
The recent cold has boosted demand and energy officials are also blaming a low natural gas supply and power plant maintenance for the problems.
California power plants often shut down for maintenance in November, typically a time between hot and cold months, McCorkle said. But this year, two nuclear plants - Diablo Canyon and San Onofre - are also closed for refueling.
Both are scheduled to resume operation by Thursday, but they take about three days to get up to full capacity, McCorkle said.
Customers will pay for the heat because there is a static supply of natural gas, said Ron Low, a spokesman for PG&E.
While customers can expect bills to rise next month, they should not be as high next year, Low said.
``The higher prices will encourage producers to produce more and prices should level out in the next year,'' he said.
The weather was expected to warm up the rest of the week, with highs in the 60s in most parts of northern California.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 15, 2000