California blackouts didn’t need to…

California blackouts didn’t need to happen.

Southern California could have avoided all hours of blackouts in 2001, and Northern California most of them, if the state’s five big, private power plant owners had produced as much electricity as they were capable of generating through the worst of the state’s electricity crisis, according to a state report released Tuesday.

The report, by Public Utilities Commission investigators, does not challenge the claims of energy companies that power plants were shut down because of mechanical troubles or air pollution rules. But even assuming that every reported shutdown was legitimate, the report concluded, the five companies withheld between 37% and 46% of their available capacity to generate electricity from November 2000 to May 2001.