Californians Turn Off Their Christmas Lights As Energy Crisis Worsens

State experiences first rolling electricity blackout in history as utilities scramble to find more power for system pushed to its capacity limit.

Published: 10-Dec-2000

S ANGELES, Dec. 8 - It was not supposed to be like this.

Families asked to turn off their Christmas lights. Businesses required to shut down for hours for days on end. Utility executives demanding relief from the governor, warning that the state's electrical system is on the verge of collapse.

After California's summer electricity troubles passed with the hot weather, most executives and state officials thought they had bought a year's time to find a solution to the energy problems. But despite a mild winter here so far, the state is again in the midst of a crisis so severe it was forced to take unprecedented measures on Thursday to avoid running out of power. And if this week's electricity shortage continues, Californians soon could be asked to darken their homes if rolling hourlong blackouts are instituted across the state as a last resort.

For most energy experts it is an unheard of situation given that air conditioners, a culprit last summer, are largely idle in the winter.

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