T&D World Magazine

A Survey of Implications to California of the August 10, 1996 Western States Power Outage

On Dec. 13, 1996, the California Energy Commission contracted for a telephone survey of a sample of California’s residential, commercial and industrial electricity consumers to assess the effects of the Saturday, August 10, 1996, western states power outage. Results include information on experiences with interruptions and outages, financial losses, use of backup power supplies, satisfaction with electric power service, and the importance of reliable service.

Findings show that most consumers experience very few outages. Outages are more disruptive for residential consumers on weekends, and more disruptive for most commercial and industrial consumers on weekdays. Approximately 44 percent of California consumers experienced the August 10, 1996, outage, and most did not incur financial losses. However, a few commercial and industrial consumers experienced losses of $50,000 to $5,000,000. More in-depth research regarding losses from outages is needed. Some commercial and industrial consumers have back-up power supplies and used them during the August 10, 1996, outage.

Most consumers are either very or somewhat satisfied with their present electric service. A total of 85.5% of residential, 89.5 percent of commercial, and 95.0 percent of industrial consumers said reliable, uninterrupted service is important. Some would be willing to pay higher rates for greater reliability. However, more research is needed to determine amounts and levels of reliability expected....

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