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Breaking News

California Declares Stage 3 Power Alert

Aired January 17, 2001 - 2:16 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We have some breaking news to bring you right now.

A stage 3 alert has been issued in California. This is the third alert in six days. However, this time, we are told, blackouts are likely to happen this hour.

California power officials have issued this power alert, warning that the rolling blackouts may start at any moment now. We were told about 15 minutes ago they may start. We're still waiting to see if that, indeed, is going to happen.

There's only a 2 percent reserve of power right now that we're told, and that the blackouts are likely to happen all over the state and then continue to about 9:00 p.m. their time, midnight Eastern Time.

On the phone right now, we have Lorie O'Donley. I hope I'm saying that right.

Lorie, you are with the California Independent System...

LORIE O'DONLEY, CALIFORNIA INDEPENDENT SYSTEM OPERATOR: Operator.

PHILLIPS: ... Operations systems.

O'DONLEY: System operator.

PHILLIPS: Can you hear me all right?

O'DONLEY: Yes, I can.

PHILLIPS: System operator.

OK, first of all, tell me, as a system operator, what does your job entail, Lorie?

O'DONLEY: Our organization is the manager of the state's transmission system for electricity.

PHILLIPS: OK. So basically, you're the one that's going to pull the switch where the blackouts will take -- take or will occur? How does it happen? O'DONLEY: Yes, it is our -- it is under our purview at the ISO to determine when the grid is in jeopardy, when the supply and demands are not balanced, and when rotating blackouts are required.

PHILLIPS: And how do you determine that they are not in balance?

O'DONLEY: When the -- you know, when we have too much demand on the system for the electricity supply that is there.

PHILLIPS: OK. Now, we were told that the rolling blackouts were supposed to happen about close to 20 minutes ago. Are they going to happen? Will it be happening any minute now? What can you tell us?

O'DONLEY: I can tell you that it has not happened as yet. They have not been ordered. But it is pretty -- it is fairly likely that -- I mean, we're -- we're making plans...

PHILLIPS: All right.

O'DONLEY: ... for that at this time.

PHILLIPS: So for those who live in California, what are they to do right now?

O'DONLEY: I would stay tuned to all of the -- you know, we have agreements with all of the local radio, talk radio, that kind of a thing, to get the news out as quickly as possible. And we will do that.

PHILLIPS: Now, how -- for the folks who are not tuned in to television, radio, how do you plan to tell everybody what is about to happen and what they should do and how they should continue living through -- until midnight tonight?

O'DONLEY: We will be working in conjunction with the utilities, who actually implement the scheduled outages. They schedule them and select the blocks and that kind of thing.

We'll be working with them and all of the media outlets in the state to get that message out as best we can.

PHILLIPS: All right, Lorie O'Donley, system operator for the power company in California.

They are scheduled to have the rolling blackouts at any minute now.

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