Energy Palo Alto Issues, posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2010 at 4:52 pm Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Well, Palo Alto, Now that you have experienced a day without it, ask yourself - is electricity a sybaritic, shameful indulgence, or is it an essential requirement for even the minimal existence?
Since the energy crises of the 70s, brought on by a combination of events [Google ‘energy crises’] , governments have more and more displaced energy producers from the planning process. I predicted way back then that the only rational policy for utilities was to hand the future to the government. With the regulatory beating PG&E took from Diablo Canyon, Helms Hydro and Humbolt Bay, capped with the final assault, a market essentially deregulated except for the price they could collect, PG&E acknowledged that their client was no longer the customer, but the government was.
There was a large, vocal constituency, part Malthusian, part Luddite, opposing construction of any new facilities and so the government decided to reduce the demand by regulating consumption rather than increase the supply to meet demand. The rational way, increasing capacity to meet increasing demand, was no longer possible.
Utilities were ordered to set aside a certain portion of their revenues to support government approved alternatives. It was no skin off their teeth as long as they got theirs, so pinwheels and hamster wheels and other heavily subsidized foolishness was given free reign.
If the peninsula has 2 feeders geographically separated, the loss of one feeder would have resulted in a switching flicker. The California Energy Commission and the PUC are responsible for the failure to require redundance of services. Fire them and let the industry come up with a competitive market scheme.
Posted by Kirk, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2010 at 5:40 pm
Palo Alto has taken electrical power for granted forever. Those days are over. This plane crash just emphasized the fact.
Power production, as well as redundancy are all part of the picture. Yet Palo Alto is oblivious. Has a single PA city council member endorsed nuclear power? What happens when the long-term contracts that purchased all that hydro power are expired?
Yesterday was very instructive. I actually enjoyed a day free from my computer, and I got a lot of stuff done. However, if it had gone on for more than 1-2 days, it would have not been so nice.
Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community, on Feb 18, 2010 at 6:44 pm
Ten hours without power and Palo Alto freaks out. What are Palo Altans going to do when:
Ten days without power when environmental activists take down several transmission towers.
Ten weeks without power when malicious foreign governments sabotage the electric grid control systems the have already hacked into.
Ten months without power when Islamic terrorists blow up a few hydro dams or power plants.
Ten years without power when nuclear armed jihadists detonate an an EMP (electro magnetic pulse) bomb above California.
The difference between these future actions and yesterdays plane crash are one of preventablity. The plane crash was an accident. These future actions could be prevented if the government would cut the "political correctness" and take proactive action against our enemies at home and abroad.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2010 at 9:37 pm Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Hey, sunny Jim, what is the heaviest motor load your solar panels will start? How many cloudy days can you last without a utility connection? What would your cost be without subsidies? If you have batteries, do they have seismic bases? Where will you dispose of the toxic remains of batteries? Do you enjoy screwing your neighbor by making them subsidize your trinket? What if your neighbor's trees shade your panels?
Posted by Paul, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2010 at 9:41 pm
"Ten years without power when nuclear armed jihadists detonate an an EMP (electro magnetic pulse) bomb above California."
Ah, yes, that EMP fantasy again. Must be the latest fad on AM radio.
Get real Pilgrim, jihadists and all the other sundry bogeymen du jour are a long way from getting an EMP weapon, and it's not worth their trouble - look at the mass hysteria and rampant flag desecration they can cause with a few stolen airplanes. Much cheaper and megatons of leverage.
But Russia and China have had EMP weapons for decades and the means to deliver them, and they still do. What sort of "proactive action" have you got in mind then, a neat little made-for-TV invasion of Russia and China?
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Feb 19, 2010 at 3:52 am Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
"With the regulatory beating PG&E took from Diablo Canyon, Helms Hydro and Humbolt Bay, capped with the final assault, a market essentially deregulated except for the price they could collect, PG&E acknowledged that their client was no longer the customer, but the government was."
Wadda you think I mentioned that. Justy? The "Hang your clothes on a hickory limb but don't go near the water" deregulation?
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Feb 19, 2010 at 2:21 pm
You're grasping at straws Walter. Most of us don't need sump pumps or air-conditioning. I seldom use my disposal--compost, it's a good thing.
I actually found the day without power pretty peaceful--and I had to drive all over that place. Of course, I wasn't actually without power--I had a phone line and gas in the car. The only true inconveniences were worrying about the fridge (which turned out to be well-insulated) and not getting online. I could see solar taking care of my in-house needs quite nicely. I'd say the water supply was the bigger issue.
Posted by Sunny Jim, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Feb 19, 2010 at 2:29 pm
All my motors worked fine: refrigerator, garbage disposer, furnace, washing machine, dryer, vacuum cleaner, and electric pencil sharpener.
Someone has misinformed you. Low voltages do not start fires. Due to the ohmic resistance in the wires, low voltages may accompany abnormally high currents due to transient low impedance loads that fail to transition to their steady state. Those currents can overheat wires and start fires if the associated circuit breaker or fuse malfunctions. Always test your protection devices. Adequate wiring is imperative.
On a solar system, an inverter with decent voltage regulation capabilities, plus adequate battery reserves, handles the situation quite well.
You ought to consider putting that kilowatt per square meter presently being wasted overheating your attic to use. Subsidies are available to help with the costs. Good luck.
Posted by b, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Feb 19, 2010 at 11:38 pm
For the near term we must prepare for a longer term disaster (no electricity, water, or gas); residents with or without solar power should make sure they have good water reserves.
1. Potable water for at least seven days - about 1/2 to 1 gallon per day per person.
2. Non-potable water for recharging your toilet tank after the first flush - or plan on digging holes in your backyard.
Next comes food:
1. Since your refrigerator and freezer won't keep food more than a day or so, stock up on non-perishable items.
2. Food cannot be heated without electricity or gas. If we're lucky and have gas, matches still work to light them. People who camp probably have propane stoves they can use - check your tank(s). Start enjoying powered milk for your kids cereal, ugh. Use small food containers so you don't leave uneaten food in large ones that could get moldy. Make sure they don't require refrigeration.
Generators do work but need gasoline. Gas stations won't be able to pump gas so use it sparingly. Hopefully your neighbors won't mind the noise. Storing gasoline on your premises is a bad idea. Not only is it dangerous, but continual expansion and contraction will allow water to condense in the tank - bad news.
This list is incomplete; have warm clothes and bedding; flashlights and spare batteries; some cell towers might work for a while on batteries so a cell phone could be handy; medical supplies; helpful neighbors. Look at your own needs and add to the list.
And last let us hope our somewhat short sighted governments become more far sighted and make better preparations for our protection.
Posted by Sunny Jim, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2010 at 9:36 am
"Undervoltage can cause a motor fire unless the motor has internal protection or a rated starter - The branch circuit breaker or fuse is not adequate."
You remain misinformed. For the benefit of yourself and anyone else reading this:
A properly rated and functional branch breaker or fuse will prevent overheating of the feeder wires. Consult the National Electrical Code for the proper ratings. A licensed electrician can tell you.
A properly functioning motor protection device (which is usually a circuit breaker of some form, although solid state devices are coming on line) will prevent overheating the motor windings. A malfunctioning motor starter combined with a nonfunctional motor protection device will cause a fire even at full voltage, in fact, much more quickly.
Low voltage is not per se at fault, although you should always guard against this condition. My solar system does. What protection do you have?