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Re: PG&E Shutting off power.

Posted: Wed Nov 13, 2019 7:24 am
by DaveinOlyWA
LTLFTcomposite wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 10:17 am
We got the same thing in Florida after the hurricanes, OMG the electric company is so stupid why aren't the power lines underground!
Then the costs and what it would do to everyones electric bill came to light and the first world hardship of being without power for a few days maybe once or twice in a lifetime was quickly forgotten. The end result was more concrete poles so restoration after a storm was much quicker. Also some "smart grid" stuff, I suppose that helps them diagnose issues proactively. Hopefully they get more out of that than sending me an email telling me the power is out.
Power lines fail on their own (at a MUCH lower rate) so burying them becomes a logistical challenge to repair changing the repair time from a few hours to a few days so only the very most EXPENSIVE and vital lines are buried in most areas.

I often wondered the same especially in town but its more than installation costs of excavation that has to be looked at.

Re: PG&E Shutting off power.

Posted: Wed Nov 13, 2019 8:01 am
by LTLFTcomposite
The trend here for many years has been underground within a neighborhood but the feed coming to the neighborhood is overhead. Still plenty of pre-1980-ish hoods with overhead service to the homes though.

Indeed, going underground makes repairs difficult and time consuming.

Could it be that random know-it-alls on the internet actually aren't smarter than the people with decades of experience building and maintaining these power distribution systems?

Re: PG&E Shutting off power.

Posted: Wed Nov 13, 2019 6:24 pm
by GRA
LTLFTcomposite wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 8:01 am
The trend here for many years has been underground within a neighborhood but the feed coming to the neighborhood is overhead. Still plenty of pre-1980-ish hoods with overhead service to the homes though.

Indeed, going underground makes repairs difficult and time consuming.

Could it be that random know-it-alls on the internet actually aren't smarter than the people with decades of experience building and maintaining these power distribution systems?
Always a possibility, the problem is that the grid many of the people have with decades of experience building and maintaining it, is a very different grid (and perhaps more importantly, operated in a very different regulatory environment) to what the grid needs to be now. The grid they're used to was a top-down monopoly where power was generated in big central plants that they owne,d then transmitted and distributed that pwoer along their lines, and the amount of power sold increased every year.

That all started to change in the '70s, when energy conservation became a thing, then we had 1978's PURPA law which allowed independent power producers access to the grid and the utilities had to take that power at their avoided cost, and then the 1992 Energy Policy Act which forced utilities to get out partly and in many cases entirely from the power generation side of the business, leaving them with only transmission and distribution with minimal rental fees for that. At the same time they had to deal with myriad independent power producers who often were putting highly variable renewables on line, and who had no interest in curtailing them when the utility needed that to happen for grid stabilization, forcing the utilities to pay for those sites to shut down, and also deal with rapid ramps of power over which they had no control and which they found hard to replace quickly enough. The utilities weren't nimble businesses because for most of the 20th century they didn't need to be, and many of the people now running them are leftovers from that era.

Re: PG&E Shutting off power.

Posted: Wed Nov 13, 2019 6:35 pm
by LTLFTcomposite
Certainly you aren't suggesting that dry tree branches bringing down a power line in a windstorm are any more or less likely to start a fire depending on the direction of current flow.

Re: PG&E Shutting off power.

Posted: Wed Nov 13, 2019 7:02 pm
by GRA
LTLFTcomposite wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 6:35 pm
Certainly you aren't suggesting that dry tree branches bringing down a power line in a windstorm are any more or less likely to start a fire depending on the direction of current flow.
Is that question directed at me? If so, no, I wasn't suggesting that, I was pointing out that the utilities' sources of revenue, their stability and their amounts have changed radically since the existing grid's heyday. And large, rapid power ramps that the utility has limited ability to control definitely are a source of stress and failure to the infrastructure.