Statewide Chain Foreseen : Power-Conserving Coalition to Spread

Times Staff Writer

An Orange County-based coalition of large electricity users that have agreed to reduce power consumption when brownouts threaten is planning to forge a statewide chain of energy cooperatives.

John Phillips, executive director of the nonprofit Laguna Beach-based California Energy Coalition, said Wednesday that the group intends to have a network of cooperatives in place by the early 1990s to straddle the jurisdictions of the state's three investor-owned electric utilities.

A statewide group would collect rebates from all three utilities and would be able to spread power-reduction efforts over a wider area when one of the utilities called for temporary cutbacks.

Since the first Orange County cooperative was founded in 1982, Phillips said, its members have collected more than $1 million in rebates from Southern California Edison Co. for entering a standby agreement to reduce their use of power in an energy crunch.

Edison is willing to pay the cooperative for the contingency agreement, Phillips said, because it is less expensive than building more generating plants that it would use only during the hottest summer days and at other peak demand periods.

Phillips said the coalition has grown substantially since it began as a cooperative with the Irvine Co., South Coast Plaza, Fluor Corp. and Pacific Mutual as its only members. That first cooperative, he said, has expanded to include Hoag Memorial Hospital, SteelCase and the Orange County Sanitation Districts.

Phillips said these facilities together have promised to cut consumption by a total of 12,000 kilowatts within 30 minutes of receiving a request from Edison.

Recently, he said, the coalition has sponsored the development of a second Orange County cooperative that includes the high-rise office buildings in Koll Center Irvine, Jamboree Center and MacArthur Court, as well as the Irvine Hilton. And it has begun to organize a third cooperative of aerospace companies in the South Bay area of Los Angeles.

Five other cooperatives similar to those in Southern California have been formed in the Bay Area, Phillips said.

Each facility in a cooperative has different options when a request comes in to cut back on power use. Trammell Crow, owner of Fluor's huge engineering and corporate buildings in Irvine, might reduce lighting in office corridors, temporarily turn off refrigeration in the cafeteria and stop pumping the water in its fountain, while South Coast Plaza could rotate use of the fans in its air-conditioning system and shut down some mall fountains and escalators.

Phillips said that while the coalition's plan to link all the energy cooperatives statewide has the support of the state Public Utilities Commission, it still will take a lot of negotiating with the utilities, which, in addition to Edison, include Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric.

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