UPDATE 1-Calif power grid operator fined for 2010 San Diego blackout

Fri Dec 14, 2012 4:56pm EST

* ISO to pay $200,000 fine to settle allegations
    * ISO has improved training, revised some procedures


    Dec 14 (Reuters) - California's power grid operator has
agreed to pay $200,000 to settle allegations that it violated
electric reliability standards in connection with a short San
Diego blackout in the spring of 2010.
    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said in an
order on Friday that the California Independent System Operator
(ISO) admitted violating reliability standards following an
investigation by FERC's Office of Enforcement.
    "We reacted very quickly to this error, we acknowledged the
error and are going to do what FERC has told us to do," said
Steven Greenlee, ISO spokesman. 
    On March 31, 2010, the California ISO, in conjunction with
the power company San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), scheduled
the 322-megawatt (MW) Central La Rosita II power unit in Mexico
to provide power on April 1, 2010.
    However, La Rosita II suffered an outage on the afternoon of
March 31 and was not available to meet its schedule for April 1.
The ISO knew La Rosita II was not available but failed to plan
to replace the power scheduled from the unit, according to the
FERC order.
    One megawatt can power about 800 California homes.
    SDG&E is owned by California power company Sempra Energy
.
    Privately-held power generator InterGen owns Central La
Rosita. InterGen is based in Massachusetts.
    Shortly before midnight on March 31, 2010, the ISO granted a
request from Calpine Corp's 604-MW Otay Mesa power plant
to shut at midnight.
    One minute before midnight, an alarm alerted the ISO
operators that generation in the San Diego area had dropped
below the required level.
    The FERC order said the operators were not adequately
trained on how to respond, and just after midnight they started
to shed load in the San Diego area, leaving about 250,000 SDG&E
customers without power for 43 minutes.
    Greenlee said while the operators made an error, they acted
out of an "abundance of caution" to protect the integrity of the
grid. 
    Since the outage, the agency has enhanced its training,
revised some operating procedures to reduce confusion and
assigned operating engineers to the control center at all times
to assist power system engineers.  
    San Diego has suffered other power problems since then. In
September 2011 a blackout left 2.7 million customers in Southern
California, Arizona and Baja California in Mexico without power.
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