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Yosemite Rim Fire: new stress on California's stretched energy grid

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Jae C. Hong/AP

(Read caption) Inmate firefighters walk along Highway 120 as firefighters continue to battle the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Sunday. The Yosemite Rim Fire forced the closure of hydroelectric dams and transmission lines that bring electricity to the city and county of San Francisco.

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A wildfire spread through Yosemite National Park over the weekend, forcing the closure of hydroelectric dams and transmission lines that bring electricity to the city and county of San Francisco.

No power disruptions have been reported, but the fire's creep toward the Hetch Hetchy power stations drove Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency for the area of the fire and San Francisco, just 150 miles west.    

The threat to energy infrastructure comes during a peak period for electricity demand in a state squeezed for capacity. In June, the troubled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in southern California was closed permanently. The current 125,000-acre wildfire in northern California, which has burned for 10 days and is 15 percent contained, is adding new stress on the state's energy distribution. 

Power continues to flow to customers uninterrupted, officials stressed, and the Hetch Hetchy hydroelectric power stations in the fire's path do not make up core capacity.

 
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