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Power Grid Operator Sweats Over Hot Weather

Aired 7/9/12 on KPBS News.

A drop in supply in one key area - and no way to make up for the loss - has California's Independent System Operator hoping conservation is enough to hold off rolling outages.

Stephanie McCorkle is with the California Independent System Operator or Cal ISO. She said when the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant in San Diego County was taken offline, 2,000 megawatts of power stopped going to the state’s power grid. This affects San Diegans more than most.

“We’re only going to have a reserve margin in the local area of about thirteen megawatts – and that’s counting on all of the older power plants in the region being available to us,” explained McCorkle.

McCorkle said there’s also a transmission bottleneck in Southern California. The state grid has plenty of power, but there aren’t enough lines to deliver it to the affected areas.

Cal ISO is already running commercials to encourage conservation. If the power demand becomes too much, the commercials will be replaced with an urgent Flex Alert call to conserve.

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