Californian blackouts

Reasons why

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A number of different factors influenced the Californian blackouts:
The weather is 2000/01:
Oregon and Washington State's supply hydro-electricity to California. 2000 was the third year of
a drought and they had less surplus electricity to export.
The summer of 2000 was unusually hot, which triggered an increased use of electricity for
The winter of 2000-01 was unusually cold, which increased the need for heating. Natural gas was
in short supply, so prices soared overnight.
Insufficient generating capacity
The limited capacity of interstate power lines to import more electricity to make up for the
The deregulation of the power industry in 1996.
Manipulation of the Californian energy market; Enron was a large and wealthy American energy
company, based in Houston, Texas. In California, Enron used the supply and demand mechanism
to ensure that energy prices remained high- even when supply was plentiful.
They did this by:
Obscuring the origin of electricity, in order to obtain higher prices
Deliberately reserving more power line usage then they required
Moving energy around the Californian electricity grid in order to receive payments from the
state for relieving congestion
Encouraging suppliers to shut down plants to do unnecessary maintenance thus reducing the
supply to keep the prices high.
California moves on
2003; Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor of California.
The state declared that by 2010, 20% of its electricity must come from renewable sources.
2007; Schwarzenegger issued a directive to establish the world's first low carbon standard for
transportation fuels.
2008; Schwarzenegger continued his low-carbon drive; he signed agreements to cut the use of
high-carbon petroleum sources, such as tar sands from Canada and elsewhere.


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