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ChrisL

Planned Black Outs Is The Answer?

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We have strong winds coming the next few days and the morning news is reporting the local electric companies are cutting power to close to a million people for up to a week as a result?  
PG&E is on the hook for billions for their roll in several fires during similar conditions over the past few years so now the response is, wind is coming we’re shutting power.

It seems to me there has to be a middle ground here, like addressing an aging power grid infrastructure so the power lines don’t spark fires and we have power..

 

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9 minutes ago, ChrisL said:

We have strong winds coming the next few days and the morning news is reporting the local electric companies are cutting power to close to a million people for up to a week as a result?  
PG&E is on the hook for billions for their roll in several fires during similar conditions over the past few years so now the response is, wind is coming we’re shutting power.

It seems to me there has to be a middle ground here, like addressing an aging power grid infrastructure so the power lines don’t spark fires and we have power..

 

You guys don't even need A/C!  Imagine the load that would put on your infrastructure :D

PG&E is likely in the "best defense is a strong offense" sort of mode.  They may even be in a all-or-nothing mindset by now - either they break the CA regulators' and government's resolve (through public outcry) or they go bankrupt over time as the costs to be responsible for the grid add up.  Usually, the gov't caves.

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1 minute ago, Longjohn said:

The water company could have fixed Dotty’s leak the same way by just shutting off water to his house the leak would have stopped. That’s  genius there are all kind of things that could be fixed that way. 

Isn't that what they did? He had to run out, turn on the main, do his thing inside with the water, and then run back out to shut it off :D  Best exercise he has gotten in months.

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12 minutes ago, ChrisL said:

It seems to me there has to be a middle ground here, like addressing an aging power grid infrastructure so the power lines don’t spark fires and we have power..

 

not to sound like a dumb ass, but wouldn't new wires be potentially brought down by wind also?

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1 minute ago, bikeman564™ said:

not to sound like a dumb ass, but wouldn't new wires be potentially brought down by wind also?

Not if you bury them. Then all you have to worry about is the earthquakes.

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1 minute ago, bikeman564™ said:

not to sound like a dumb ass, but wouldn't new wires be potentially brought down by wind also?

Possibly, who really knows but I think Tom hit the nail on the head.  This is a new response to something that happens every year.  Wind blows, power lines drop & spark fires, people die & lawsuits ensue.

So they just say fuck it, we’re killing power to a million people deal with it.

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9 minutes ago, ChrisL said:

Possibly, who really knows but I think Tom hit the nail on the head.  This is a new response to something that happens every year.  Wind blows, power lines drop & spark fires, people die & lawsuits ensue.

So they just say fuck it, we’re killing power to a million people deal with it.

Forced training in how to live off the grid. The want California to be ahead of the game for when the whole national grid goes down.

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1 minute ago, ChrisL said:

I believe they fiked BK so I’m gonna say no...

The good news is this Johnson guy seems to be emphasizing his willingness to both provide energy AND environmental stewardship! The ship has be righted!  And @Randomguy will appreciate that he is a lawyer!

William D. Johnson

CEO and President, PG&E Corporation; Director, Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Mr. Johnson brings decades of utility experience and leadership as a utility industry executive. He concluded a more than six-year tenure as President and CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) from 2012 to April 2019, leading the nation’s largest publicly owned utility in its mission of providing energy, environmental stewardship and economic development across a seven-state region. Prior to his tenure at the TVA, Mr. Johnson was the Chairman, President and CEO of Progress Energy.

During Mr. Johnson's tenure at TVA, the organization achieved the best safety records in its 85-year history and has been a perennial top-decile safety performer in the utility industry. Mr. Johnson led the retirement of more than half of TVA's coal generation, resulting in a reduction of TVA's carbon emissions by about 50 percent over the last decade. He also oversaw TVA's expansion into utility scale solar in recent years, with the addition of approximately 1,000 megawatts (mWs), and pursued the modernization of its hydro assets to increase the overall amount of renewable resources. Under his leadership, more than 50 percent of TVA's energy came from non-greenhouse gas emitting sources.

Throughout his career in the energy industry, Mr. Johnson has collaborated closely with elected officials and other community leaders to deliver safe and reliable energy to millions of customers.

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Actually, sounds like a reasonable answer to me, and you can blame lawyers and bad zoning laws that allows people to build to close to high voltage transmission lines.

The real issue is, there is nothing they can reasonably do to safeguard against power lines coming down in severe weather conditions.  This isn't an aging power grid issue, this is a limit in design issue.  You can only make towers so strong, lines so strong and ability to stand up against certain wind levels.  Brand new installations will fail under certain conditions.  So if people can sue for things failing because of weather conditions that are beyond design limits, they really have no choice but to shut things down to protect against that possible litigation.

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26 minutes ago, bikeman564™ said:

not to sound like a dumb ass, but wouldn't new wires be potentially brought down by wind also?

Yes, they would.  I know people will just say make them stronger.  Stronger means heavier, so then you have to make the towers heavier, but it isn't that simple when you take into the account of an even heavier cable swinging, the amount you'd have to strengthen the towers would be several factors of magnitude more.  It's just not feasible, both economically and structurally.

It always amazes me the amount of new houses built so close to high voltage transmission lines.  And not because of any EMI risk (lines signals are adjusted and balanced to reduce EMI at ground level, this is what I actually primarily focused on studying in college) but because of the safety risk in the event of a line failure.

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27 minutes ago, Longjohn said:

Not if you bury them. Then all you have to worry about is the earthquakes.

Underground cost money. There are power outage prone areas everywhere due to trees. Detroit Edison trims trees, which pisses people off, and if not they loose power. Which pisses them off. Lose lose for Thomas ;)

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Just now, Indy said:

Yes, they would.  I know people will just say make them stronger.  Stronger means heavier, so then you have to make the towers heavier, but it isn't that simple when you take into the account of an even heavier cable swinging, the amount you'd have to strengthen the towers would be several factors of magnitude more.  It's just not feasible, both economically and structurally.

Exactly.

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1 minute ago, bikeman564™ said:

Underground cost money. There are power outage prone areas everywhere due to trees. Detroit Edison trims trees, which pisses people off, and if not they loose power. Which pisses them off. Lose lose for Thomas ;)

Also you have to have far more monitoring situations to locate breaks when they occur.  Buried I think is great for in towns where runs are short, so you can better locate issues (hey my neighbor has power and no one after him does, pretty easy to find the problem), but for long high voltage transmission power lines, which is what they are most likely shutting down so you are losing the feed to the substations, it would be an expensive, impractical, mess.  And imagine someone digging and hitting one of those bad boys.  At least it wouldn't hurt though, you would be instantly evaporated.  Seriously, no remains left.

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42 minutes ago, Razors Edge said:

Isn't that what they did? He had to run out, turn on the main, do his thing inside with the water, and then run back out to shut it off :D  Best exercise he has gotten in months.

That's exactly what I did.

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2 minutes ago, Razors Edge said:

Did you lose any weight? Or was my "more activity" theory disproved???

No but my worry caused my stents to shudder.

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4 minutes ago, Indy said:

At least it wouldn't hurt though, you would be instantly evaporated.  Seriously, no remains left.

Maybe, when the Forge bought a new boom crane the maintenance supervisor was trying it out. He accidentally hit a transmission line going to the substation. He knocked out the power to the whole town of Mercer. The power company gave him a good talking to. The Forge had to get their own substation after that. The power company didn’t want to take any more chances.

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1 minute ago, Longjohn said:

Maybe, when the Forge bought a new boom crane the maintenance supervisor was trying it out. He accidentally hit a transmission line going to the substation. He knocked out the power to the whole town of Mercer. The power company gave him a good talking to. The Forge had to get their own substation after that. The power company didn’t want to take any more chances.

He got damn lucky.  When you get into the kV range of transmission lines, you are dealing with some really serious consequences for a mistake.

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1 hour ago, ChrisL said:

We have strong winds coming the next few days and the morning news is reporting the local electric companies are cutting power to close to a million people for up to a week as a result?  
PG&E is on the hook for billions for their roll in several fires during similar conditions over the past few years so now the response is, wind is coming we’re shutting power.

It seems to me there has to be a middle ground here, like addressing an aging power grid infrastructure so the power lines don’t spark fires and we have power..

 

That is shocking.  So, basically business will stop and people have to run out and buy generators to store their food? 

Time to go vegetarian for a week.  

This is insanity.

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2 minutes ago, Dirtyhip said:

That is shocking.  So, basically business will stop and people have to run out and buy generators to store their food? 

Time to go vegetarian for a week.  

This is insanity.

The  good news, if I remember from @Kzoo, is that local generators are a way better and more efficient solution than relying on wasteful power from power plants.

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11 minutes ago, Dirtyhip said:

That is shocking.  So, basically business will stop and people have to run out and buy generators to store their food? 

Time to go vegetarian for a week.  

This is insanity.

My deep freeze is good for a week, easily at the temperatures we have here.  So no need to go drastic.

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5 minutes ago, Razors Edge said:

How many times can you open and shut it in your calculations?

Or is this another fasting conversation?

Enough, you sure don't want it open long and digging around in there.  But if it comes to it, I have a generator I can fire up and cool it back down.

If things really got desperate.  Camper fridge runs off propane and I have plenty of that for a couple weeks.

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9 minutes ago, Indy said:

My deep freeze is good for a week, easily at the temperatures we have here.  So no need to go drastic.

Good for you.  Many people only have a standard fridge and freezer.  I fret when I lose power.  My tiny freezer will not keep things cold for a week.  

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36 minutes ago, Longjohn said:

Maybe, when the Forge bought a new boom crane the maintenance supervisor was trying it out. He accidentally hit a transmission line going to the substation. He knocked out the power to the whole town of Mercer. The power company gave him a good talking to. The Forge had to get their own substation after that. The power company didn’t want to take any more chances.

Who knew Mercer Pa even had electricity. 😜

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1 hour ago, Indy said:

Actually, sounds like a reasonable answer to me, and you can blame lawyers and bad zoning laws that allows people to build to close to high voltage transmission lines.

The real issue is, there is nothing they can reasonably do to safeguard against power lines coming down in severe weather conditions.  This isn't an aging power grid issue, this is a limit in design issue.  You can only make towers so strong, lines so strong and ability to stand up against certain wind levels.  Brand new installations will fail under certain conditions.  So if people can sue for things failing because of weather conditions that are beyond design limits, they really have no choice but to shut things down to protect against that possible litigation.

OK I see your point.  

So the infrastructure isn’t necessarily the problem, it’s going to fail and we already know this to be true based on history.  But larger communities in fire prone areas and the litigious nature we live in have now left the power companies no other option but to shut down when there is a wind event... And there will be many more over the coming years...  

So basically the power companies are saying, sorry folks, this is your fault, we’re shutting it down...  We’ll bring it back up in a week maybe longer depending on how long the wind lasts.  
 

 

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55 minutes ago, maddmaxx said:

Can one bury high voltage lines?

Not practically. Those overhead lines are not insulated for all the structural reasons above. 
They’d have to be buried in some kind of concrete pipe/conduit. I guess it would have to be big enough that they could support/pull individual cables thru without abrading them to pieces. 
 

Gotta remember, those line carry 345,000 volts. 

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1 hour ago, ChrisL said:

But larger communities in fire prone areas and the litigious nature we live in have now left the power companies no other option but to shut down when there is a wind event... And there will be many more over the coming years...  

I can't say I see that as true.  Essentially, the check on anything in the US is the ability to sue for wrong doing.  If you damage someone's property, especially due to neglect (or worse,, on purpose), then it is likely yoou are going to be on the hook for repairing the property and associated costs.  I am sure that PG&E has lots of good legal representation, so PG&E likely explored EVERY option, loophole, and precedent to see what their options were/are. Likely far in excess of what the families of folks who died in the Camp Fire wildfire were able to explore, and likely in excess beyond what the state of CA was even able to explore.

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1 hour ago, Razors Edge said:

I can't say I see that as true.  Essentially, the check on anything in the US is the ability to sue for wrong doing.  If you damage someone's property, especially due to neglect (or worse,, on purpose), then it is likely yoou are going to be on the hook for repairing the property and associated costs.  I am sure that PG&E has lots of good legal representation, so PG&E likely explored EVERY option, loophole, and precedent to see what their options were/are. Likely far in excess of what the families of folks who died in the Camp Fire wildfire were able to explore, and likely in excess beyond what the state of CA was even able to explore.

My response had a slight hint of sarcasm to it...  It’s a multifaceted problem and Indy made valid points but I cant wrap my head around the solution being to shut the grid down.  

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"California and Alabama are the only states that apply inverse condemnation to private companies, Wara said, but California’s interpretation leads to a level of financial damages that is much larger than seen in Alabama."

 

Last year:

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/energy-green/sd-fi-wildfire-hearing-20180724-story.html

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Just now, Razors Edge said:

Over in the bicycling section of this joint.

Bicycling?!?  Who the hell does that?  Do you guys talk about lightweight, fancy, expensive gear??

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13 minutes ago, donkpow said:

"California and Alabama are the only states that apply inverse condemnation to private companies, Wara said, but California’s interpretation leads to a level of financial damages that is much larger than seen in Alabama."

Last year:

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/energy-green/sd-fi-wildfire-hearing-20180724-story.html

It's an interesting issue to consider.  What we often see is that there is a straw that breaks the camel's back, which results in a reaction seemingly disproportionate to the final straw.  Over years, stuff eventually get out of whack, and a correction can be ugly. 

What is a reasonable penalty for contributing partially or totally to a fire? To a fire that destroys property? To a fire that kills people?  What is window of time for the determination and payment of that penalty to the affected parties? What if there is a prior history of similar behavior? 

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6 hours ago, ChrisL said:

We have strong winds coming the next few days and the morning news is reporting the local electric companies are cutting power to close to a million people for up to a week as a result?  
PG&E is on the hook for billions for their roll in several fires during similar conditions over the past few years so now the response is, wind is coming we’re shutting power.

It seems to me there has to be a middle ground here, like addressing an aging power grid infrastructure so the power lines don’t spark fires and we have power..

I don't know if they're making a political statement by shutting off the power, hoping to win laws that will make them less liable in the future and allow them to raise rates as much as they believe they need, or just worried that any new lawsuits would kill their already-bankrupt company.

In any case, you're right, some other solution is necessary.  But the bankrupt company sure doesn't have any money to make their transformers, etc. more safe.  The lawsuits ensured they couldn't do that if they wanted.

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1 hour ago, Razors Edge said:

It's an interesting issue to consider.  What we often see is that there is a straw that breaks the camel's back, which results in a reaction seemingly disproportionate to the final straw.  Over years, stuff eventually get out of whack, and a correction can be ugly. 

What is a reasonable penalty for contributing partially or totally to a fire? To a fire that destroys property? To a fire that kills people?  What is window of time for the determination and payment of that penalty to the affected parties? What if there is a prior history of similar behavior? 

I casually monitored the conversation after the devastating fires last year. The legal landscape was established during electrification of the state. Basically, if there were forest fires, the power companies were required to pay for damages. Not really necessary to prove fault or negligence. Just the price of doing business. Now you are looking at many more people, more infrastructure, and a more highly regulated system of the power company rates. 

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