E-MAIL STORY PRINTER FRIENDLY FOXFAN CENTRAL Blackouts Cut Power to 500,000 in Southern California Thursday, August 25, 2005 LOS ANGELES — Sweltering heat and the loss of a key transmission line Thursday forced power officials in Southern California to impose rolling blackouts, leaving as many as half a million people without power for about half an hour, officials said. The California Independent System Operator (search), which operates the state's electric grid, declared a transmission emergency at 3:57 p.m., said ISO spokeswoman Stephanie McCorkle. About 30 minutes later, power was being restored to people subjected to the blackouts, she said. It marked one of the most serious disruptions since the California power crisis in 2000 and 2001, when high demand, high wholesale energy costs, transmission glitches and a tight supply caused widespread problems including blackouts. The ISO ordered Southern California Edison (search) to reduce demand Thursday throughout its region, prompting blackouts in areas of Fontana, La Puente, Cathedral City, Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Ontario, said Gil Alexander, a spokesman for the utility. The utility scattered the outages to the points east and south of Los Angeles. If the problem had persisted, the blackouts would have been shifted to other areas. The situation was exacerbated by the sudden loss of the transmission line originating in southern Oregon, officials said. A transformer went off line automatically following an oil flow alarm, causing a drop of about 1,000 megawatts of power, said Carol Tucker, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (search), which owns the line. Temperatures that hovered around 100 in inland areas and reached 94 in Los Angeles had created increased demand of about 1,500 megawatts. A megawatt is enough power to serve about 750 homes. The emergency order from the ISO caused SoCal Edison to reduce demand by 800 megawatts throughout its territory. The ISO asked San Diego to shed 100 megawatts. Northern California was not affected by the shutdowns. SoCal Edison serves about 13 million people in more than 400 Southern California cities and communities. Few problems were reported in communities struck by the blackouts. Long Beach police Officer Greg Schirmer said SoCal Edison notified the department in advance of the blackout. "We've had rolling blackouts in the past and we've been fortunate enough not to have any issues," he said. Rozanne Adanto, community services director in La Puente in the east San Gabriel Valley, said the city received an email notifying it of possible power outages at 4:10 p.m. "I did notify staff to keep saving their documents on the computer," she said.