Rolling blackouts are a controlled power outage system put in place by power companies in times of desperate need to ration power. For instance this is happening right now (early 2001) in California. They shut off certain sections (cities and sections of cities) for certain amounts of time in order to conserve power for the rest of the grid. Many towns experience outages from between one and five hours currently, depending on the direness of the situation at hand.

The main reason for California's need to resort to such a devastating rationing system is that the state's economy grew faster than the power grid could keep up. Many server farms and computer heavy businesses add to this lack of power. This is devastating to any company. Motorola estimates it loses about a million dollars a minute. That can add up over a serveral hour blackout. For many other companies on the verge, this is the crushing blow. California is the 7th largest economy in the world; this is the last thing it needs.

The current power situation is affecting energy bills everywhere in the West, from a mild 16% energy price hike in Seattle, to a proposed 300% price jump in Arizona (who feeds off of the same grid California does). This situation can easily be called an energy crisis. Rolling blackouts are one way the government and the now privatized energy companies hold on with as little as possible.

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