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DC Power Outages

Discussion in 'The OT' started by RasputinAXP, Jun 30, 2012.

  1. Jun 30, 2012 #1 of 101
    RasputinAXP

    RasputinAXP Kwisatz Haderach of Cordcuttery

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    So the family and I are on vacation in DC and the apartment we're staying in in Alexandria lost power about 24 hours ago. Worse, no hotels have room for the night. Temperatures are miserable and the little ones are a mess.

    Is the DC metro area always this inept when it comes to this kind of thing?
     
  2. Jun 30, 2012 #2 of 101
    dpeters11

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    It's the size. Right now Dominion is reporting over 300,000 without power. Pepco has another 300,000 out currently. Reports were that at the peak, 1.5 million in the DC area were without power.

    We had a strong wind come through Cincinnati a few years ago. Took a week for us to get power.
     
  3. Jul 1, 2012 #3 of 101
    RasputinAXP

    RasputinAXP Kwisatz Haderach of Cordcuttery

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    Power's back now. about 30 hours' worth of outage.
     
  4. Jul 1, 2012 #4 of 101
    SayWhat?

    SayWhat? Know Nothing

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  5. Jul 1, 2012 #5 of 101
    TBlazer07

    TBlazer07 Grumpy Grampy

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    Yikes, perfect time for a vacation!

    My kids live in Northern VA just outside DC. They're on their way up here to NJ because they were told no electricity until late Mon or early Tues.
     
  6. Jul 1, 2012 #6 of 101
    AntAltMike

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    YES!! This area is the power outage capital of the free world. When we get an inch of rain, the power goes out. When we get two inches of snow, the power goes out. When we have wind gusts exceeding 30 miles per hour, the power goes out. When a big guy has an allergic reaction to Cherry blossom pollen and sneezes, the power goes out.

    Power is still out where I live, in College Park, Maryland, which is just a few miles northeast of DC but still inside the beltway. We lose our power every year. I just heard on the radio that help is on its way. There will be repair crews from Florida and Oklahoma arriving tomorrow. On Friday, I bought 25 pounds of chicken filets on sale and froze them. If the outage lasts another day or two, I'll probably have to chose between cooking all of them or throwing them away.

    WTOP will run interviews with the power commissioner and the presidents or CEOs of the local power companies, and each will describe their tree pruning program and their long run plans to eventually put all the wiring underground. The DC city council and Maryand and Virginia County commissioners will weigh in. If enough people are still out in a week, someone will get fired or resign. Then, next year, it will happen all over again.
     
  7. Jul 1, 2012 #7 of 101
    Davenlr

    Davenlr Geek til I die

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    If I had that many power outages, I would have a generator to keep the freezer working. We just sent 140 power crews from Entergy Arkansas to Kentucky, Tenn, W Va, and DC to help. Should get there today. Hope you get your power back soon.
     
  8. Jul 1, 2012 #8 of 101
    AntAltMike

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    I have a 1000 watt inverter in my truck, but the draw when the refrigerator compressor come on trips its internal breaker. One sucky thing about electronic circuit breakers is that there is no apparent way to bypass them.

    Last time we lost our electricity, in September, I searched on eBay and found several 3000 watt inverters for around $300 each when purchased from Hong Kong and was planning to buy one, but never got around to doing so.
     
  9. Jul 1, 2012 #9 of 101
    Marlin Guy

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    As someone else indicated, it was the size and scope of this event that has caused the outages to linger for so long.

    Usually events like this affect a small geographic area and local providers bring in help from neighboring localities to deal with the overload of damage.
    Since this storm created outages in a sweeping line from Maryland all the way down to Eastern North Carolina, everybody's busy with their own problems, and they can't help each other out.

    My wife works in IT for a local electrical cooperative in South Central VA. Her phone rang at 12:30 Friday night and she's been on the job ever since. They implemented their highest level emergency plan. She works from 7AM - 5PM during the day and she's on call when she's not at the office.

    She's salary, so unless FEMA kicks in for this event, she makes nothing extra.

    At one time Dominion Power alone had about 800,000 people offline.
    Her co-op had some 20,000 and another local co-op showed about 4,000.
    As of this posting, Dominion still has 443,000 customers offline. That's 18 percent of their customer base for the affected areas.
    https://www.dom.com/storm-center/dominion-electric-outage-summary.jsp

    My wife's small company still has over 9,000 customers offline.

    Think of the companies as a small town fire department, equipped to handle one or two calls a day. They're not equipped or staffed for the whole town to burst into flames at once. Much less when all the neighboring towns do the same thing at the same time.

    So be patient and try to be understanding that there are real people working out there in the sweltering heat, working as hard as they can to get the lights back on. Meanwhile, go find a pool or a mall and enjoy your day, while they spend time away from their families doing dangerous work under dangerous conditions.
     
  10. Jul 1, 2012 #10 of 101
    SayWhat?

    SayWhat? Know Nothing

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    And from legitimate sources, you can find 5,000 watt or larger generators in the same price range with no shipping.
     
  11. Jul 1, 2012 #11 of 101
    Davenlr

    Davenlr Geek til I die

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    Yea, got my 5KW at Home Depot on sale for less than $300. Its a great piece of security sitting out in the garage.

    Here is a pic of the storm coming through DC...
     

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  12. Jul 1, 2012 #12 of 101
    dennisj00

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    Yikes, what a picture! I'm sorry it ruined your vacation, but in a word, LOGISTICS is the problem. I worked in the 70s in the field for almost 10 years for our local Electric utility, soon to be the largest in the US, and spent many weeks, days and nights leading line and tree crews into storm damage, whether it was a local afternoon thunderstorm (not always afternoon) or an extended area outage from ice or wind.

    We often had hundreds of personnel from other utilities that weren't familiar with the area (pre GPS) and also had to be fed and housed in areas that restaurants and motels had no power. We'd get local grocery stores to open and buy all their bread, mayonaise, mustard, lunch meats and cheese to make sandwiches with soft drinks. And then they'd drive an hour or so to find motels that had power and sleep 6 to a room after working 18 hours in freezing or extreme temperatures day or night.

    In addition to getting crews from hundreds of miles away (a day or more travel in line trucks), you have to have tree crews first to clear the downed trees before any restoration can begin.

    And we'd contact non affected utilities / vendors for additional poles / wire / hardware / transformers because our local inventories were depleted. More delays.

    This storm not only affected the Baltimore / DC / Virginia area, it started in Ohio and swept through West Virginia so those crews were busy with their own problems. The VA governor stated it was the largest non-hurricane event in the history of Virginia. Currently 13 people have died and more will come from the extreme heat.

    When Hurricane Hugo came through Charlotte, I had employees that were out of power at their home or apartment for 6+ Weeks!

    Working on a line crew is one of the most dangerous professions - even on a good day! Thank every one you see.
     
  13. Jul 1, 2012 #13 of 101
    Rich

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    Everybody that can afford a generator really ought to have one. I've never had to use mine, but it's there if I need it.

    Rich
     
  14. Jul 1, 2012 #14 of 101
    Rich

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    A few years ago, my wife decided a trip to DC was in order. Without my knowledge, she made reservations for a trip in AUGUST!!! My wife learns by experience, unfortunately, and we spent the most miserable vacation of my life damn near dying from the heat getting dragged from museum to museum. My son never wants to go to DC again.

    But, if it makes you feel a little better, my AC crapped out last Friday and will be repaired tomorrow. Been over 95 and humid since Friday.

    Rich
     
  15. Jul 1, 2012 #15 of 101
    fluffybear

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    When we lived in S. California, we had thought about getting one but never did, reading this thread and facing the unprecedented heat spell we are having right now (first time in the 5 years I have lived here that our city has cracked the century mark) I am back to giving it some serious thought again.
     
  16. Jul 1, 2012 #16 of 101
    Rich

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    Do it before a catastrophe hits your area. Every store was sold out of generators last year when we got hit by a storm around Halloween. I gotta get another one, it's like sump pumps, if you need one, you'll surely need two or more (I've got three sump pumps).

    Rich
     
  17. Jul 1, 2012 #17 of 101
    dpeters11

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    And a hurricane is fairly predictable. You know it's on the way usually. This kind f thing doesn't give you any prep time, more than a few hours.
     
  18. Jul 1, 2012 #18 of 101
    Polardog

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    I feel for those with no electricity in this heat.
    The storms or derecho that started in the Chicago area and swept across several states ending up in S. NJ down to VA was a rare event. Earlier this year there was a similar storm that swept through several states in the lower Mississippi Valley with the same results.
    As Davenir pointed out in his post, the best solution if you experience many power outages is having a generator.
    My location in NW NJ is heavily wooded and its not uncommon to have the power go out during a thunderstorm. Usually those outtages are from several minutes to 3 or 4 hours.
    I've always had a generator in the garage for this reason and for supplying power in areas not wired on the property.
    In 30 years I only had to use the generator 2 times to power the refrigerator and a few lights. That was for Hurricane Gloria and for Hurricane Hugo. Gloria knocked out power for 12 hours and Hugo 18 hours.
    Then came Hurricane Irene in Sept 2011. Power went out for 8 days. I used the generator running extention cords through windows to provide power for cold food storage, a few lights and even my computer and Dish TV. I shuttered to think that if it were winter I would be without heat. But then again I thought that Irene was a rare event.
    Wrong !!
    In Oct of 2011 we had a snowstorm that knocked out power for 6 days. Again I ran extention cords just like when Irene hit. However, after the power came back on I had the electric service rewired so now all I have to do is hook up the generator to a single plug, flip a switch and the refigerator, a few lights and the furnace will work.
    The downside to my situation if there is a long time power outtage is having to fill the gas tank twice a day to keep the generator running. When Irene hit that was a concern as the power was out for large portions of NJ so the local filling stations were closed. I had to drive a bit to fill gas cans.
    I could not justify installing a fancy, self start/self switching generator that provides power automatically during an interruption. Cost too much and I still would have to fill gas tanks as there is no natural gas supplied to the rural area I live in. Propane is an option but I would have to install a tank large enough to supply uninterrupted power for days and I don't want a propane tank close to the house.
     
  19. Jul 1, 2012 #19 of 101
    EdJ

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    After a couple day power outage some 5 years ago, I bought a Champion 3500/4000 watt generator. I left it in the box and stashed it away in the garage. It took 4 years before we had a several day outage I had to open it up and try it out. Worked like a charm and kept us comfortable. The only inconvience was having to step over all the long power cords running to the 'required' things in the house. The generator is not big enough to run the entire house, but it can handle the basics just fine.
     
  20. Jul 1, 2012 #20 of 101
    Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

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    I spent a day getting a home running during that storm in October in York Township. They had a septic tank system, the husband had just died and the widow wanted to hold the wake in her home, but you can't flush the toilets too many times if the power is out to the pumps. First time I got to work on a septic system and a well and their attendant pumps.

    The easiest way to hook up a generator to your circuit breaker box is to have the appropriate receptacle installed near your CB box. Another way is to use your electric clothes dryer's female plug and backfeed to the CB box. Just have to make sure your main CB is OFF. Either way, no need for extension cords, just shut off the main CB and any other breakers that are not critical.

    Rich
     

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