After weeks of threatened power outages, California was hit by rolling electricity blackouts Wednesday afternoon affecting 500,000 people in San Francisco, Sacramento and San Jose as well as other sections of Silicon Valley. Traffic lights, ATMs, classrooms and entire neighborhoods lost power for 60 to 90 minutes amid warnings electricity supplies would be dangerously low throughout the afternoon and into the evening. The rotating blackouts, the first ordered by California authorities since World War II, were expected to continue throughout the evening, affecting up to 2 million households.
Five hundred megawatts of power from Canada had been obtained to stop the rolling blackouts until Wednesday. The state had averted blackouts on Tuesday thanks to the shutdown of massive water pumps that send water to Southern California, temporarily making 600 megawatts available.
Energy Secretary Bill Richardson extended an emergency order requiring power suppliers to sell electricity to California until midnight Tuesday. In a sign of the attitude the incoming administration would take on the issue, however, a spokesmen for President-elect George W. Bush said the crisis was not a federal, but a California problem. Source.