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  • Brownout (electricity)

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    A brownout near Tokyo Tower in Tokyo, Japan. A brownout is an intentional or unintentional drop in voltage in an electrical power supply system. Intentional brownouts are used for load reduction in an emergency. The reduction lasts for minutes or hours, as opposed to short-term voltage sag (or dip). The term brownout comes from the dimming experienced by incandescent lighting when the voltage sags. A voltage reduction may be an effect of disruption of an electrical grid, or may occasionally be imposed in an effort to reduce load and prevent a power outage, known as a blackout. In some media reports the term brownout refers to an intentional or unintentional power outage or blackout of some areas rather than to a drop in voltage.

  • Southern California Edison

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    Sign for Southern California Edison Company San Vicente Sub stationSouthern California Edison (or SCE Corp), the largest subsidiary of Edison International, is the primary electricity supply company for much of Southern California. It provides 14 million people with electricity across a service territory of approximately 50,000 square miles. However, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, San Diego Gas & Electric, Imperial Irrigation District, and some smaller municipal utilities serve substantial portions of the southern California territory. The northern part of the state is generally served by the Pacific Gas & Electric Company of San Francisco. Southern California Edison trucks lined up for delivery to help restore power in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, 2012. Southern California Edison (SCE) still owns all of its electrical transmission facilities and equipment, but the deregulation of California's electricity market in the late 1990s forced the company to sell many of its power plants, though some were probably sold by choice.

  • California electricity crisis

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    Chronology 1996 California begins to modify controls on its energy market and takes measures ostensibly to increase competition. September 23, 1996 The Electric Utility Industry Restructuring Act (Assembly Bill 1890) becomes law. April 1998 Spot market for energy begins operation. May 2000 Significant rise in energy prices. June 14, 2000 Blackouts affect 97,000 customers in San Francisco Bay area during a heat wave. August 2000 San Diego Gas & Electric Company files a complaint alleging manipulation of the markets. January 17–18, 2001 Blackouts affect several hundred thousand customers. January 17, 2001 Governor Davis declares a state of emergency. March 19–20, 2001 Blackouts affect 1.5 million customers. April 2001 Pacific Gas & Electric Co. files for bankruptcy. May 7–8, 2001 Blackouts affect upwards of 167,000 customers. September 2001 Energy prices normalize. December 2001 Following the bankruptcy of Enron, it is alleged that energy prices were manipulated by Enron. February 2002 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission begins investigation of Enron's involvement. Winter 2002 The Enron Tapes scandal begins to surface. November 13, 2003 Governor Davis ends the state of emergency. The California electricity crisis, also known as the Western U.S. Energy Crisis of 2000 and 2001, was a situation in which the U.S. state of California had a shortage of electricity supply caused by market manipulations, and capped retail electricity prices. The state suffered from multiple large-scale blackouts, one of the state's largest energy companies collapsed, and the economic fall-out greatly harmed Governor Gray Davis' standing. Drought, delays in approval of new power plants, and market manipulation decreased supply. This caused an 800% increase in wholesale prices from April 2000 to December 2000. In addition, rolling blackouts adversely affected many businesses dependent upon a reliable supply of electricity, and inconvenienced a large number of retail consumers. California had an installed generating capacity of 45 GW. At the time of the blackouts, demand was 28 GW. A demand supply gap was created by energy companies, mainly Enron, to create an artificial shortage. Energy traders took power plants offline for maintenance in days of peak demand to increase the price. Traders were thus able to sell power at premium prices, sometimes up to a factor of 20 times its normal value. Because the state government had a cap on retail electricity charges, this market manipulation squeezed the industry's revenue margins, causing the bankruptcy of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and near bankruptcy of Southern California Edison in early 2001. The financial crisis was possible because of partial deregulation legislation instituted in 1996 by the California Legislature (AB 1890) and Governor Pete Wilson. Enron took advantage of this deregulation and was involved in economic withholding and inflated price bidding in California's spot markets. The crisis cost between US$40 to $45 billion.

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