January 22, 2001
Contact: PG&E News Department (415) 973-5930
EDITORS: Please do not use "Pacific Gas and Electric" or "PG&E" when referring to PG&E Corporation or its National Energy Group. The PG&E National Energy Group is not the same company as Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the utility, and is not regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission. Customers of Pacific Gas and Electric Company do not have to buy products or services from the National Energy Group in order to continue to receive quality regulated services from Pacific Gas and Electric Company.


Conservation is Urged to Help Keep California from Rotating Outages

SAN FRANCISCO – Pacific Gas and Electric Company has informed the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) that the CAISO has now exhausted the entire 2001 annual allowance for the state’s interruptible customer program contract (north of Kern County).

This condition further calls for lawmakers and regulators in the state to work expeditiously for a fair resolution of the energy crisis, which has jeopardized the safety and economic well-being of Californians and threatens financial viability of the state’s utilities.

"Conservation is going to be more important now than ever," said Jeff Butler, Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s vice president of operations, maintenance and construction. "We urge all of our customers to do whatever they can to conserve energy during our current energy crisis over the next several days. If we all do a little, it may be enough to help the state avoid rotating outages."

Pacific Gas and Electric Company has about 170 commercial and industrial customers who voluntarily signed contracts to participate the program. This amounts to about 400 megawatts. (About 140 customers and approximately 340 mw are north of Bakersfield.) Under the guidelines of the proposal, customers can be asked to reduce their usage 30 times a year or 100 hours a year. In exchange for being the first to have their power curtailed during shortages, these customers receive a discounted rate.

Under the state’s Electric Emergency Plan, the CAISO calls upon the program during Stage 2 Emergencies to reduce the chance for rotating block outages. Since the program has been virtually used up, the CAISO will no longer be able to call on Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s interruptible customers to reduce their usage.

"Many times during this crisis, the interruptible program has made the difference between keeping the lights on and having rotating outages," Butler added. "Without these customers voluntarily serving as a buffer, the CAISO may have to implement the rotating block outage program much sooner if they are not able to buy enough power to meet the needs of our customers."

"We appreciate the efforts of the interruptible customers and of all our customers to conserve energy and help the state get through the crisis," Butler added. "We understand their inconvenience and want them to know that we are doing everything we can to ensure public safety during the outages."

The California Public Utilities Commission created the interruptible program in the 1950s. To participate in the program, customers must be able to reduce their electrical usage by 500 kilowatts.

Some conservation tips for the home and the office include:

  • Install a clock thermostat. You can program it to keep the temperature automatically set at 68 degrees or cooler when the house is occupied and, health permitting, 55 degrees or off at night and when you’re not at home.

  • Turn off PCs, monitors, printers, copiers, and lights when not in use or not needed. If you cannot turn off the whole computer, turn off the monitor and the printer.

  • Shut off lights in unoccupied rooms.

  • Cook in your toaster oven, microwave or broiler oven. They use half the energy of a regular oven.

  • Caulk and weatherstrip around doors, windows, and areas where pipes come into the home.

  • Keep the furnace clean, lubricated and adjusted. Clean a washable furnace filter or replace a disposable filter each month in winter.

  • Insulate your water heater, turn down its temperature to the "warm" setting or about 120 degrees, and avoid wasting hot water.