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View Diary: Utilities on Solar & Distributed Power "€œIt's a potential threat to us over the long term" (307 comments)

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  •  They've "sucked"? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    just another vet, offgrid

    Power is pretty reliable most places in the US. I mean, sure, you'll get outages during and after storms, but storm-proofing power lines and such is a horrendously expensive proposition. It's better and more economical to just take and fix the odd power outage here and there.

    But in general I think they've done excellently. Power is pretty reliable most places most of the time.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 08:39:56 AM PDT

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    •  If utilities want the benefit of being a (4+ / 0-)

      monopoly, they should be required to maintain and update their equipment.  Instead, they let it get run down and use power outages as an excuse for hiking rates.

      The CEO of Florida Power and Light made $14.8 million in 2011.  That's expensive.  

    •  you don't stormproof (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      but you have to have enough crews that you can fix a major outage in 72 hours.

      You have to size the work force and the spares such that you can model a Cat 3 hurricane blowing into your area and you can replace all your High Voltage grid towers and wires in 72 hours and you can get secondary grid up in ten days and you can get all your customers back up in 21 days.

      So that means you need to stormproof your baseload generation and you probably want to stormproof your peaker plants ut you need to be able to replace 100 miles of 750KV towers in a day.  

      When Maine had big ice storms, they got the national guard to chopper in towers intact and they borrowed crews from all over the east coast.  

      if Hurricane Andrew hit Philidelphia you need to be able to get power to critical services within 72 hours, you want comms, police, hospitals, Fire departments and shelters up and running ASAP.

      then you work outwards, fixing road systems, water systems, trains,

      and then you have to get power to Gas Stations, pharmacies, banks, grocery stores,  big apartment buildings,,,,,

      etc...

    •  Any country in Europe (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DocGonzo, Calamity Jean, RUNDOWN

      would laugh derisively at electricity delivered by wires running overhead from wooden poles!  Even in Hungary and Romania, they cast the poles out of concrete.  Most of Western Europe uses buried cables that don't go out during storms, let alone any other time unless the plant itself fails.  Nor would they dream of allowing something like the Enron debacle to occur.  Power itself has traditionally been run entirely by the government, and although there has been some privatization, regulation remains draconian by American standards.  Regulatory capture by private interests is less common than government "capture" by the vested bureaucracies and unions of power agencies.

    •  Suburban NYC (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean, RUNDOWN

      I live in an NYC suburb, with a nuke plant practically in my backyard. I pay the highest electric rates in the country.

      Every month or two I get a power outage that lasts from 2-30 minutes. A couple times a year I get an hour outage. Plus the outages about half the time there's a big hurricane-related storm or 3'+ snowstorm or ice storm, which is about twice every three years. For which I'm paying more for just the network/delivery than half the country pays for their entire electric service.

      The US grid is held together with duct tape and twine (and lots of electrical engineer and line worker overtime). Mostly the network is easy (demand response is hard, but that's generating), especially after over a century buildout. Watching the NYC area for the weeks after Sandy (while a single downed pole/transformer in the neighborhood kept our power off for a week and a half) made it clear that the utility's ongoing maintenance sucked, their disaster plans nonexistent or worse, and their emergency skills more Keystone Kops than Captain Sully.

      So yes, "sucked" is the right word. Especially considering the huge profits they make most of the time while they're merely blah, without paying penalties for failing us during the inevitable crises.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 03:07:32 PM PDT

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