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Richard Rider

Has “Enron” corruption returned to California’s electricity system?

Below is a bizarre story from the LA TIMES.  Cal-ISO, the government body that oversees our California electrical grid system, put out a bogus warning during this recent hot period, warning residents that rolling blackouts were imminent if people and businesses didn’t turn off their A/C and otherwise conserve electricity.  We were running out of electricity!!!

But we never got anywhere CLOSE to having a power problem. At the peak of the usage, we still had 38% excess capacity.  We now have so much solar power that A/C peak usage is no longer a problem unless scorching heat is accompanied by cloudy days (yeah, THAT happens a LOT in California!), but nobody told the “analysts” at Cal-ISO.

As a result, during this warning period the wholesale price of electricity in the state jumped FOUR to FIVE times the usual level.  Somebody made a killing off this — ultimately at ratepayers’ expense.

This fake alert has the smell of Enron all over it. Did someone bribe “analysts” at Cal-ISO to put out what was an incredibly false warning?  Or was this just classic California bureaucratic incompetence, raised to a new level?

Either way, one thing’s for certain:  Those responsible will not be fired, or in any way lose their wonderful pensions when they retire.  Remember, this IS California.

California’s electricity price skyrocketed with the heatwave. Should power officials have called the alert?

Ivan Penn — Contact Reporter

 As record-setting temperatures surged into the triple digits in parts of California this week, the manager of the state’s electrical grid put out an urgent plea: Turn down the AC and conserve power to avoid rotating outages.
The two-day flex alert by the California Independent System Operator drew headlines from dozens of media outlets across the state and country. It also sent electricity prices on the wholesale market soaring four to five times higher than normal — a cost that will be passed on to utility customers.
There was no statewide shortage of electricity — not even close, according to a Times analysis of federal and state energy data.
Even as the mercury climbed, consumers used 44,184 megawatts Tuesday — 3,656 fewer than the forecast. But the system can generate about 71,000 megawatts, which means there was 38% unused capacity. That’s well above the 15% reserve required by the state for emergencies.
Some energy experts said the flex alert was unnecessarily alarmist.
“The notion that the sky is falling is a little bewildering to us,” said Robert McCullough, of Oregon-based McCullough Research, who works as a consultant for power companies.
“There’s no question that flex alerts will attract people’s attention,” he said. But with actual usage at times falling as much as 10% below Cal-ISO’s forecast, he said someone failed to seriously analyze the data. “I would hate to report into the utility executive with that information. This would be a career-ending moment.”
Robert Freehling, an energy policy consultant who has done work for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the Imperial Irrigation District, also questioned the grid operator’s computer models and analyses.

“There’s been a very heavy overestimation of demand,” he said, noting that the statewide flex alert “certainly raised eyebrows.”

Even the utility companies said that the increased demand caused by rising temperatures had not created an energy shortage.

. . .

For the full LA TIMES story with graphics, go to the URL: