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Blackouts Were Avoidable: Report

A report from state energy regulators says that nearly all the blackouts that swept California during the state´s energy crisis could have been avoided. The analysis was done by the state Public Utilities Commission and Portland-based McCullough Research. It found that all the Southern California blackouts and 65% of Northern California blackouts occurred because power generators slowed production. PUC Commission President Loretta Lynch told a state Senate committee yesterday that for all but two of 32 blackouts, the state´s five largest non-utility electricity generators were not operating at capacity. The report is based on information obtained from the committee, which has collected more than a million documents and subpoenaed more than two dozen energy companies. PUC General Counsel Gary Cohen says the companies were not generating power because they thought that withholding energy would drive the price up. The state claims it was overcharged nearly 20 billion dollars during the 2000-2001 power crisis by the five largest generators. Executive Director Jan Smutny-Jones of the Independent Energy Producers says California´s generators increased output by 88% during the energy crisis.