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Heat wave not affecting local power despite alert

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Posted: Monday, August 9, 2004 10:00 pm

Although high temperatures sent many flicking on their air conditioners and craving scoops of ice cream, Lodi's Electric Utility was well below their peak usage Monday as the state Independent System Operator issued a "power watch" alert and a "Spare the Air" day was declared in the county. It was the first this year.

The city-owned Electric Utility was "doing fine" as peak-usage hours approached Monday, Director Alan Vallow said.

"August is typically the tightest for electric supply because it's also typically the hottest," he said.

Barring any system-wide energy and transmission problems, there shouldn't be any fears of blackouts or brownouts in Lodi, Vallow said, adding that the utility keeps 15 percent power margin of reserves.

"This is a good measure of how efficient our programs have been. We've shaved 5 to 7 percent off our peak usage," Vallow said, but warned that as temperatures break 100 for multiple days, people tend to forget to use their energy wisely.

The high for Monday was a normal 97 degrees, mostly due to some cooling marine winds pushing through the Delta, said forecaster Ken Clark of AccuWeather, a private forecasting firm.

Today and Wednesday will be hotter with highs in Lodi near 100, he said. Temperatures are typically in the low 90s this time of year.

Five days so far this month have posted temperatures in the 80s, continuing the trend of an unusually mild summer. The below-average temperatures even caused an early grape harvest this year.

Highs of 102 in Sacramento and 100 in Stockton didn't put too much strain on the ISO. Actual energy usage for most of the state's power grid Monday peaked at 42996 megawatts, coming short of the one-day power usage record set in the state on July 21 at 44,360 megawatts.

Information on the ISO's Web site suggests that people help conserve energy by not using large appliances during peak hours from 4 to 6 p.m., keep thermostats at 78 degrees or above and use fans to keep cool.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District also reported no problems Monday afternoon.

Although power was flowing smoothing, air quality levels were not so good. The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District declared Monday a "Spare the Air" day, the first in the county this year.

Anthony Presto, a public education representative for the district's northern region, said high temperatures, fires in nearby Calaveras County and poor air quality conditions in Tracy led to issuing the warning.

When temperatures are around 100 degrees, increased vehicle emissions and volatile organic compounds can together create ozone and necessitate an air quality alert, he said.

Presto said using alternative transportation and avoiding unnecessary car trips can reduce emissions while refueling at night, not using gas-burning lawn mowers and not using oil-based paints can lower compound levels on "Spare the Air" days.

"(Air quality) is everybody's problem. Just about everyone can take one of these actions," he said.

Contact reporter Michelle Miller at intern@-lodinews.com.

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