While disagreement remains as to whether strained electricity supplies will lead to blackouts in Southern California this year, state energy officials warned that Stage 1 and Stage 2 power alerts are likely. However, they maintain that they?re hoping to avoid more serious Stage 3 alerts and rolling blackouts this summer. During an annual update on the state of the region?s energy affairs in San Diego April 25, the California Independent System Operator and San Diego Gas & Electric stopped short of saying that blackouts are coming. CAISO interim chief operating officer Jim Detmers said energy officials are counting on consumers?not demand-response programs aimed at large users, or importing extra supplies?to avoid grid problems. Despite a widespread call for conservation, transmission and supply constraints, as well as hot weather, could lead to a repeat of last summer?s power alerts, but it isn?t expected to reach the extremes of the summers of 2000 and 2001, when rolling blackouts occurred, SDG&E and CAISO officials said. In San Diego, ?we?ve got demand growth ranging between 4 percent and 10 percent, depending on the community,? Detmers warned. Not coincidentally, SDG&E customers will be urged to cut back energy usage by about 300 MW, or 10 percent. ?We are very much expecting to depend on customers. When we put out the calls to conserve power, we expect that to occur," said Detmers. The California Energy Commission, the California Public Utilities Commission, and CAISO all weighed in recently about their calculations of potential shortages and blackouts in Southern California this summer, making their case to other policy makers and state media (<i>Circuit<\/i>, April 15, 2005). With this press conference, state entities and utilities are beginning to blanket the media to prompt voluntary conservation. If San Diego County were to experience a long, hot summer or if a major transmission line were damaged, officials warned, rolling blackouts could be a possibility. However, authorities aren?t planning for blackouts, they said, nor are they predicting them. There haven?t been any blackouts in the San Diego region since May 2001. David Geier, SDG&E vice-president of transmission and distribution, said that a strain on the grid is still likely, much as in 2004 when a record 4,065 MW crest was reached. Normal demand for the region is between 2,800 and 3,200 MW. If such a peak is exceeded, it?s possible that transmission lines could go down. ?We?re expecting another system peak,? Geier cautioned. ?Probably 4,100 MW.? One small supply source that could help with shortages is a 45 MW power plant going on line soon in the Miramar area. Due to be on line next summer is the 550 MW Palomar Energy plant in Escondido. SDG&E is also building a 35-mile transmission line, which would run mainly through eastern San Diego County, to connect a substation near Chula Vista to one in Mission Valley. It would allow the utility to import more electricity from plants in Mexico and distribute it countywide and across the state.