Monday, 12 July 2021 19:27

Arizona Official Says California's Electrical Power Grab Could Lead to Outages

Written by Elizabeth Troutman, The Center Square


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The head of the Arizona Corporate Commission worries California power officials moving their wattage to the front of the line would export power outages to Arizona and elsewhere.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently decided to allow the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) to prioritize energy flow throughout California over Arizona. This concerns the chairwoman of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), Lea Márquez Peterson.


CAISO petitioned FERC to make changes to its tariff related to transmission priority through California in response to the extensive blackouts in August 2020. The summer readiness plan approved by California's primary grid operator deprioritized the electrical wattage sent outside the Golden State when the power demand is high.


In reaction, the ACC and public utility commissions and electric utilities in states such as Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon filed protests with FERC, saying CAISO is an "independent" entity and should be held accountable in an "open" and "fair" wholesale market.


Southwest utilities such as Tucson Electric Power and Arizona Public Service accused CAISO of "exporting its reliability issues which are the result of dynamics within the CAISO BAA to the rest of the West."


This summer, when California utilities are short on power, due to the tariff changes, Márquez Peterson said CAISO could cancel contracts and block energy at the border, allowing CAISO to repurchase power intended for Arizona for itself. She fears this will force Arizona's utilities to struggle to make up for power they had already paid for and rely on. The tariff change, she said, benefits Californians at the expense of the health and wellbeing of Arizonans.


"During rotating blackouts, small areas across the utilities' territory would experience short power outages of one to two hours. While most households and businesses would continue to be served, affected areas would...

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