ENERGY CRISIS FORCES CALIF. INTO EMERGENCY

LOS ANGELES — California’s textile mills, large consumers of electricity and natural gas, are struggling to cope with significant rate hikes in the wake of the state’s energy crisis, and some are considering closing until the situation stabilizes, WWD has learned.
Faced with a severe fiscal crunch at power companies, California Gov. Gray Davis declared a state of emergency Thursday after rolling blackouts lasting 90 minutes hit San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Sacramento. Southern California is also expected to experience blackouts in the next couple of days as legislators work feverishly to push a deal through the State Senate to keep the lights on and the state’s largest utility firms solvent.
In an emergency proclamation Wednesday, Davis hesitantly approved legislation that would make the Department of Water Resources the largest purchaser of electricity for the state, supplanting Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison. It is unclear how much money Davis has set aside to purchase electricity, or when the measure might take effect.
Commercial and residential users are paying 7 to 15 percent more for electricity under a 90-day rate hike. Los Angeles and other large Southern California municipalities have their own power departments, which contract independently with suppliers. These municipalities, including Anaheim, Pasadena and Burbank, have sufficient power supply, according to operators.
On Monday, WWD will explore the impact of California’s energy crisis on the apparel industry.

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