Blackouts implemented in S. Nevada


Triple-digit temperatures (temperatures above 38 degrees Celsius) and power plant problems triggered rolling blackouts across southern Nevada for the first time in the state’s history.

“We got hammered on temperatures,” said Paul Heagen, spokesman for Nevada Power Co. “And one of our plants is out on a maintenance issue, while two other plants operated by Southern (California) Edison are down.”

By midafternoon Monday, Nevada Power’s 1.2 million customers had cranked up air conditioners enough to demand a record 3,924 megawatts of power, Nevada Power spokeswoman Sonya Headen said. The utility had to cut about 100 megawatts, or enough electricity for roughly 75,000 homes, Heagen said.

“About 10,000 customers were affected for about an hour,” he said. “Today was a wake-up call for Nevada.”

Nevada Power began at 3:00 p.m. asking its major power users, including the neon-lit resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, for voluntary reductions.

Casinos reduced about 50 megawatts by switching to backup generators and taking conservation measures that went mostly unnoticed by guests.

The utility company saved the other 50 megawatts by imposing rolling blackouts until it could purchase power on the open market, Heagen said.

The blackouts represented the first time the company has curtailed power because of a supply shortage, company officials said. The longest individual outage lasted about 45 minutes, and scattered outages were reported around Las Vegas.

After reaching an official high of 112 degrees Fahrenheit (44 degrees Celsius) on Sunday, temperatures in Las Vegas remained well above 100 F (38 C) Monday.

The Nevada Power plant that was undergoing maintenance is expected to go back on line Tuesday, Heagen said.

Also contributing to Nevada’s outages was a power alert issued by California on Monday. It triggered price caps in 11 Western states for the first time since the cap mechanism was imposed by federal regulators two weeks ago.