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Power outages


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27 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 20 September 2013 - 08:43 PM

It's not even Fall, but we had two power outages today, one around noon that lasted for almost three hours and one around 6 pm that's still going on at 7:30 pm. We had just a bit of rain and the world falls to pieces ...well, not the world... but it is inconvenient.

The propane generator is now powering the furnace and the UPS my DVR's are plugged into to avoid missing any critical TV. But I have to post here using my iPad. It's a tough life here in the woods.

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#2 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 03:16 AM

A - There is NO 'critical' TV.  Not a single show of any kind.

 

B - I've lost power 3 or 4 times in the last few weeks, 2-4 hours each time.  A couple of them were on bright, sunny days with no wind.  No idea what happened.  At least one of those sunny day outages took out about a third or the county, including the county offices.


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#3 OFFLINE   fluffybear

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 06:06 AM

A - There is NO 'critical' TV.  Not a single show of any kind.

 

 

:up:  Exactly!


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#4 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 09:45 AM

B - I've lost power 3 or 4 times in the last few weeks, 2-4 hours each time.  A couple of them were on bright, sunny days with no wind.  No idea what happened.  At least one of those sunny day outages took out about a third or the county, including the county offices.

 

The reason I mused about the subject is when the power system fails for a few hours it is rather inconvenient. Then I start pondering about what would happen if we had one of those solar flares that essentially damages the power grid, knocking it out for an extended period of time.

 

 

 

A - There is NO 'critical' TV.  Not a single show of any kind.

 

:up:  Exactly!

 

By "critical" I meant "of or forming a crisis."  The first definition of "crisis" at Dictionary.com is "a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined." Some episodes of TV shows are critical to the understanding of all future episodes. There are many premiers and finales in particular which if missed might determine the course one's future TV watching. Sure it isn't a crisis anywhere near the level of that facing those Colorado folks whose communities were washed out, but it's relative.

 

I won't repeat my rant about those who say "it's only TV." You can read a prior post of it here.


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#5 OFFLINE   longrider

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 10:28 AM

The reason I mused about the subject is when the power system fails for a few hours it is rather inconvenient. Then I start pondering about what would happen if we had one of those solar flares that essentially damages the power grid, knocking it out for an extended period of time.

 

What would happen? Just watch the TV show Revolution.  All joking aside, I dont think the writers are too far off on what would happen to governments and society if something was to take out power for a period of years. Now in reality the solar flare would be major inconvenience but not the end of society. With my understanding of the science backup generators that are offline at the time of the flare would be unaffected do they could start up immediately and rebuilding would happen probably somewhat similar to what is happening after the floods here in Colorado (I, fortunately, am totally clear of any of the floods) . The major highways are already being reopened (not necessarily nice and smooth but at least passable) and the goal is to have all roads reopened and water and sewer systems operational by Dec 1st.  Full reconstruction of the infrastructure is expected to take 2 to 3 years


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#6 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 11:10 AM

The reason I mused about the subject is when the power system fails for a few hours it is rather inconvenient. Then I start pondering about what would happen if we had one of those solar flares that essentially damages the power grid, knocking it out for an extended period of time.

I don't have to ponder.  An ice storm shut us down for over 10 days.  The system was so badly damaged, they shut the main grid feeders OFF, something that's never been done before or since.

 

We were also down for over 10 days after the remnants of Hurricane Ike.

 

You learn to plan and cope.  Lanterns, alternate cooking methods, etc.

 

For longer experiences, see the victims of other natural events; tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms, etc.  Then there was the unexplained blackout in the northeast a few years ago.  And the solar event from a few decades ago that killed a large portion of the grid

 

We ARE at risk of multi-week or month outages though if a large enough solar event hits a wide enough area.  They already know that they won't be able to make transformers fast enough to replace the damaged ones.

 

By "critical" I meant "of or forming a crisis."  The first definition of "crisis" at Dictionary.com is "a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined." Some episodes of TV shows are critical to the understanding of all future episodes. There are many premiers and finales in particular which if missed might determine the course one's future TV watching. Sure it isn't a crisis anywhere near the level of that facing those Colorado folks whose communities were washed out, but it's relative.

None of that is 'critical'  It's all fiction and it'll will be re-run a thousand times.

 

The only thing even close to 'critical' might be local news informing people of relief efforts and the status of repairs for things I mentioned above.  But that only IF they have transmitter capabilities, which some stations may not have.  During those storms I mentioned, we didn't even have cell phone service for a few days.  Some of the cell towers collapsed, others didn't have back-up power systems.  Even some of the very large power transmission towers collapsed and had to be replaced.


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#7 OFFLINE   dennisj00

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 11:39 AM

Don't forget backup generators have to be refueled every 3 or 4 days . . . and the tank farms have no power or get re-fueled.  Grocery stores have no power or re-supplies. . .  ATMs don't work, you're limited to the cash in your pocket or under your mattress.  And of course, cell phones are dead in a few days.

 

We're in a world of hurt if some of the predictions of a 10 year outages from solar flares ever happen.


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#8 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 01:00 PM

What I ponder is how long I could make my propane last so that I could occasionally have some electricity. Obviously, heat would have to come from the wood stove and fireplace. And cooking could be most limited to that. We have a lot of firewood.


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#9 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 01:34 PM

Too bad you can't find a way to use steam.  Heat, cooking, hot water and steam pressure to spin the generator, all from wood.


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#10 OFFLINE   Laxguy

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 02:29 PM

There are certain shows that are critical.... to the TV experience. Where one places that in their life scheme is an entirely different equation. I didn't see a hint that phrelin needed correction in his life priorities.... can we lighten up a touch!?

 

Now, let's complain about the use of "tragedy" in today's world. A cat runs away and it's a "tragedy".....


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#11 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 02:32 PM

The LP supply issue is why a lot of people in remote areas or areas that may be cut off if the roads become impassable have decided to go with diesel generators.  Fuel oil is usually much easier to get.  Out here, everybody has it in quantity for their farm equipment.  LP has to come from the special trucks and if they can't get through, you're out of luck.

 

 

Mine's gasoline and I try to keep about 20 gallons on hand.  I don't run it full time though -- only a few hours a day.


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#12 OFFLINE   Gloria_Chavez

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 02:48 PM

The reason I mused about the subject is when the power system fails for a few hours it is rather inconvenient. Then I start pondering about what would happen if we had one of those solar flares that essentially damages the power grid, knocking it out for an extended period of time.

 

 

TV would be the least of your problems.

 

A solar flare like the one that hit the US in 1859 would disable the grid for at least a year.

 

And it's likely that all electrical equipment plugged into the grid would get fried.

 

------------------------

Solar storm of 1859

 

http://en.wikipedia....r_storm_of_1859

 

Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, in some cases giving telegraph operators electric shocks.[7] Telegraph pylons threw sparks. [8] Some telegraph systems continued to send and receive messages despite having been disconnected from their power supplies.[9]

 

------------------------


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#13 OFFLINE   Laxguy

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 02:52 PM

How do you figure the grid in the U.S. would be disabled for a year? Or any lengthy period of time? 


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#14 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 03:01 PM

Like I said above, that parts aren't available.  Transformers like the ones used in substations are built to order -- there is no long term supply of them.  No one has any quantity on hand.  Some power companies may have a few in storage for localized problems.

 

But if a large scale EMP hits and wipes out hundreds of transformers, it could take months just to make enough and get them delivered.


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#15 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 03:07 PM

The other thing is that you can't bring parts of the grid back on-line haphazard.  It has to be a planned sequence of operation.  So even if one power company has enough transformers to repair their damage, they may not be able to power anything up.

 

That was part of the problem in the northeast a few years back.  One circuit went down and the rest of the grid couldn't handle the unexpected overload.  That resulted in a cascade effect that took down several other states and took days to restore.

 

Even here, after our ice storm, they had to bring things back up in a very orderly manner to prevent further damage.  Areas that didn't have as much ice damage still couldn't be energized until other areas were repaired.


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#16 OFFLINE   dennisj00

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 03:43 PM

And the transformer / component  manufacturers have to have electricity to build new stuff.  They don't keep a large inventory of major transformers or generators.

 

There's a recent NOVA that mentions the grid being down for 10 years or more.


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#17 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 04:12 PM

It would almost have to be a planet-wide event to last that long.

 

But there is speculation that it could happen.

 

If it did, remember, that means no water or sewage treatment in most areas.  Even those places with generators that don't get fried will have problems getting fuel since refineries and tank farms will be out of operation, or at severely reduced capacities.

 

On the communications side, how long would it take to build hundreds of satellites and get them launched and positioned?


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#18 OFFLINE   dennisj00

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 04:50 PM

I think we'd be back to AM radio for a couple of hours a day to list recovery information until absolute chaos sets in.

 

It took us 50-60 years to get satellites up the first time from powered flight.  Depending on who survives, it could take longer the second time.

 

Edit:  This thread has taken a turn from a 2 hour outage!


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#19 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 04:44 PM

In an odd coincidence, this article, Surviving a solar flare, appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle which based on the headline you'd think is a survival guide, is really by the two car guys and is a fun read. They're recommending either a a 1972 Dodge Dart or a 1971 Chevy Kingswood Estate Wagon. :sure:

 

They do discuss the Carrington Event of 1859.


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#20 OFFLINE   Laxguy

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 07:32 PM

Perfect! Click n Clack hit the nail on the noggin! Somewhat surprised they mentioned tin foil, so hard to get in the times of electronics. 

 

:rolling:


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#21 OFFLINE   4HiMarks

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 10:27 AM

A truly severe geomagnetic storm could create currents powerful enough to overload electric grids and damage a significant number of high-voltage transformers, which can take a long time to repair or replace. That could leave millions without power for months or years.

“That’s a key vulnerability,” Smith says. “If you had a really big solar event, there just aren’t enough replacement transformers available. It can take up to 12 months to build new ones.”

As it turns out, most utilities don’t keep lots of spares around. The largest transformers, which convert the electricity in high-voltage lines to lower voltages, are custom-built, can cost millions of dollars and weigh up to 400 tons. Procuring a new one is a complex process that involves lining up the necessary copper and steel supplies, working with a long chain of manufacturers and arranging specialized transport. So, the Lloyd’s report notes, if even 20 transformers in the Northeast were knocked out, the logistical challenges would be “extremely concerning.”

From an article in the Washington Post on July 13.

http://www.washingto...ttacks/?hpid=z4


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#22 OFFLINE   houskamp

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 04:30 PM

and the factory would be down too.. as well as every employee's car..


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#23 OFFLINE   dennisj00

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 06:24 PM

If you now commute 10 miles - or 30 . . . you're not going to be at work everyday.

 

And there's no tele-commuting!


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#24 OFFLINE   jerry downing

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 03:36 PM

They mentioned the fact that there was no electronics in the '72 Dodge Dart. I think it had electronic ignition. That was a big selling point for Chrysler back then.



#25 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 04:27 PM

A truly severe geomagnetic storm could create currents powerful enough to overload electric grids and damage a significant number of high-voltage transformers, which can take a long time to repair or replace. That could leave millions without power for months or years.

“That’s a key vulnerability,” Smith says. “If you had a really big solar event, there just aren’t enough replacement transformers available. It can take up to 12 months to build new ones.”

As it turns out, most utilities don’t keep lots of spares around. The largest transformers, which convert the electricity in high-voltage lines to lower voltages, are custom-built, can cost millions of dollars and weigh up to 400 tons. Procuring a new one is a complex process that involves lining up the necessary copper and steel supplies, working with a long chain of manufacturers and arranging specialized transport. So, the Lloyd’s report notes, if even 20 transformers in the Northeast were knocked out, the logistical challenges would be “extremely concerning.”

From an article in the Washington Post on July 13.

http://www.washingto...ttacks/?hpid=z4

 

Don't know how I missed that one. A really good article.

 

Many folks who have never lived "off the grid" have no awareness of the precariousness of the much-vaunted 21st Century urban lifestyle despite the apocalyptic scenarios offered in many movies, TV shows, books, etc.

 

In addition to electricity, utilities including water, sewer, gas (natural and propane), plus all forms of communications technology (if you haven't read about the Carrington Event of 1859, telegraphers received really bad shocks). Virtually all advanced medical technology would disappear overnight. Supplies of medicines of all types would disappear within a few weeks for most people. Of the so-called basics - food, clothing and shelter - few are able to sustain a sufficient food supply and who sews today?

 

In National Geographic's The Grid Crashes one of the survival experts suggests:

 

In truly dire circumstances, the survivalist suggests you try pest control. Cities abound with easy-to-catch protein. Lundin’s weapons of choice: Victor brand rodent traps.

 

For many of us, it isn't the apocalyptic fiction that gives one a picture of what life would be like for a minimum of a couple of years. It would be more like going back to how people lived in most of rural America in 1905. But in the urban centers....


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"Always poke the bears. They sleep too much for their own good."

"If you're good enough, they'll talk about you." - Tom Harmon
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