Curtailment ordinances as an approach to electricity shortages
Electricity shortages--either short run due to equipment failure, or longer run due to unavailability of capacity or fuel--may be an increasingly common feature of electricity supply in future decades. Lessons from handling other shortage situations may be useful for policy considerations. Reviews the Los Angeles experience with an electricity curtailment ordinance during 1973-1974, the effects of that ordinance on major classes of customers, and considers lessons for future shortages. The ordinance was successful as a short-run policy in reducing demand to avoid system outages. By setting targets it permitted flexibility by individual establishments. This flexibility in individual response seems to have been important in the observed widespread compliance. Factors to be noted in assessing transferability of the Los Angeles plan: (1) The ordinance had broad public support. (2) The surcharge could be ordered by a state Public Utilities Commission. (3) The reduction was due to efforts by commercial customers who represented 50 percent of sales.