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View Full Version : BIG Power Outage: Off Topic, OT



imp
02-19-2016, 11:54 PM
My wife just informed me the resort mecca of Laughlin, Nevada, is without electrical power for the past hour and a half. She subscribes to facebook spinoff, Laughlin Buzz, and reports began pouring in about an hour ago. A Vegas T-V station has confirmed it, with video of a very large substation fire, obviously to me, burning transformer cooling oil, no other combustibles present there, to my knowledge.

My first thoughts were, how is a town of 9,000 with total weekend population likely at 15,000 or more, especially this time, a major annual off-road race scheduled, fed it's power from the grid? Surely, via at least two sources, substations, ya think, or know? I don't know. Outside of my level of experience. Buzz reports say the entire town is black. One comment complained, PC dictates that's the improper word: dark is appropriate (??!).

BS aside, we started conjecturing. Each resort hotel has several BIG emergency power generators; we walk by them often, entering or leaving via employee or other non-main entrances. To what degree can such EGs be matched to power-up the enormous electrical loads of these establishments? Anybody got such info? What of all the dozens of restaurants with their buffet steam tables? Elevators? The River Lodge Resort has 18 of them!

We walked the entire river walk today from the Lodge down to Riverside Casino and back, 3 miles total. I both marvel and cringe, thinking about the guys keeping these behemoths running. Having been a Facilities Engineer, faced with machinery and production implications, these folks deal with the public, a different kind of "customer".

A flash from the wife just now. Scott Johnson, Admin of the Laughlin Buzz, was in the Aquarius Casino with his wife when the power went out, almost 2 hours ago. Some gaming tables still going, minimal lighting via EGs, some slots still being played. No level of vital concern......

Video of the substation burning was very moving, huge flames, the news report stated 4 transformers were sited there, heat had engulfed some in addition to the one which had "exploded". Could these babies be PCB filled? imp

darryl
02-20-2016, 12:18 AM
Makes me wonder how bad it would get, and how quickly, if we lost major power sources unexpectedly- like say Hoover dam or some other big one. Could be a real life changer.

The transformer that feeds our street has been cutting out with a loud bang for a few months now. One of my friends who lives closer to it says it sounds like a rifle shot. It goes out for 2 or 3 seconds at a time, sometimes for a minute or so. We get together for a beer at a local pub and harp about having to reset our clocks all the time. I'm thinking that one day the transformer is going to explode. Glad it's not on my front lawn.

danlb
02-20-2016, 12:27 AM
There WAS a major coal burning power plant in Laughlin. Bet they wish it was still there.



Mohave Power Station (known also as Mohave Generating Station, or MOGS) was a 1,580-megawatt (2,120,000 hp) coal-fired power plant located in Laughlin, Nevada. Southern California Edison is the majority owner of the plant and was its operator.[2] The plant is currently shut down and in the process of being dismantled.

imp
02-20-2016, 12:40 AM
Ha, Ha! Yer right. We watched them demo the big tall chimney while we snowbirded the first winter. Now we split our time here and MO. If yer interested, that power plant got it's fuel through a 260 mile long pipeline, coal slurry, from clean over by Flagstaff, from the coal mines near there. The plant has been decommissioned, but the "high-lines" coming in from the west, at least 3 sets of them remain. Big long insulators, my guess at least 1/2 million volts, I've wondered driving by, are they still "live"? imp

flylo
02-20-2016, 12:42 AM
In 10 years with solar getting cheaper & batteries getting better homes can be self powered hopefully. I plan to do solar as 1 have almost 3200 sq ft of shop roof facing clear south & they have a 25% & another 30% credit to help pay for it. One reason I bought the 6000# cap forklift with the 4000# battery which turned out great. I've had it 3 weeks & it's still charged where it was & I read where it might loose 1 or more percent of charge per day but I bought a 6v,12v,24,v,36v,48v, combo charger 12amps @ 36v so I'll use it as a trickle/float charger.

Puckdropper
02-20-2016, 12:48 AM
Makes me wonder how bad it would get, and how quickly, if we lost major power sources unexpectedly- like say Hoover dam or some other big one. Could be a real life changer.

The transformer that feeds our street has been cutting out with a loud bang for a few months now. One of my friends who lives closer to it says it sounds like a rifle shot. It goes out for 2 or 3 seconds at a time, sometimes for a minute or so. We get together for a beer at a local pub and harp about having to reset our clocks all the time. I'm thinking that one day the transformer is going to explode. Glad it's not on my front lawn.

Has anyone called the power company? Something like that sounds like something that won't be fixed unless reported, the company may not even realize something's wrong.

danlb
02-20-2016, 12:52 AM
Has anyone called the power company? Something like that sounds like something that won't be fixed unless reported, the company may not even realize something's wrong.

The power company knows... believe me, they know. Most of the grid is set up to report it's status now. When a substation goes down, an alarm sounds somewhere.


If yer interested, that power plant got it's fuel through a 260 mile long pipeline, coal slurry, from clean over by Flagstaff, from the coal mines near there. The plant has been decommissioned, but the "high-lines" coming in from the west, at least 3 sets of them remain. Big long insulators, my guess at least 1/2 million volts, I've wondered driving by, are they still "live"?imp


They also had a rail line that went through the plant. I'm not sure if it was hauling clinkers away or coal into the plant.

I located the plant one day when driving around after losing too much at the slots. I smelled the sulphur first, and then saw the plant. It was a pretty good sized installation.


Dan

J Tiers
02-20-2016, 12:53 AM
Has anyone called the power company? Something like that sounds like something that won't be fixed unless reported, the company may not even realize something's wrong.

Not even ONE chance they didn't know about it about 5 milliseconds after it happened. Not if they have ANY reasonable monitoring equipment, and they will if they are seriously in business.

They knew as soon as the power draw dropped going to that area. They would not notice a few houses here and there, that is buried in the noise. But several thousand houses? They should notice that right away.

ikdor
02-21-2016, 12:52 PM
Maybe someone was inspired by the Metcalf substation attack.
With the limited redundancy in the US grid, attacking transformers is a terrorists wet dream. With a delivery time of more than a year for a replacement, people will be inconvenienced for a long time.
Igor

imp
02-21-2016, 01:43 PM
I am happy to report the outage lasted only about four hours! Also glad that quite a number of you guys have backgrounds from which I can continue to garner more understand and knowledge of, the lesser known facts about electric power.

Circuit theory hasn't changed much since my two-year stint at DeVry Technical Institue (Chicago), which provided an Associate Degree, Electronics Technology (1963). But Solid State certainy has, and a lot of it has left me in the dust, as my pursuits throughout my working years were more mechanical than electrical, though I always wound up with the job of wiring the control panels....

Had to get pretty deep into researching this one: When we were leaving Phoenix, Salt River Project, one of the two major utilities there, was constructing a half-million volt transmission line from Hoover Dam to the Phoenix area, 500,000 volts DC! I was like, Huh? Surely conversion back to AC cannot be imagined by electromechanical means! They apparently series thousands of thyristors and do it solid-state. Something I know very little about, other than the high-voltage aspects. That 12" lathe of mine wound innumerable thousands of turns of #36 Nyclad wire, building high-voltage transformers. imp

H380
02-21-2016, 02:43 PM
Ha can't gamble at a casino. In 1992 we went 17 days without power after Hurricane Andrew here. I live only 2 miles from the power plant (NG) and 3 miles from the coast. The power company lost 50 miles of HV transmission lines and towers and 100k wood poles. Also went 18 days under dusk to dawn martial law. Nothing like watching HUMVEEs with guys carrying M16s around your neighborhood to shape your political views. Just look at New Orleans and how fast the US can go back to 3rd world survival of the fittest. The only one responsible for your family is you.

Paul Alciatore
02-21-2016, 03:54 PM
Well, I hope it wasn't terrorism. This sub station could have just been overloaded.

As for the emergency generators, I have had the responsibility for them at several TV stations. We had one at the studio and another at the transmitter site. Generally the transmitter's generator ran the whole plant as after the transmitter itself, the rest was mainly just lights. At the studio, they were generally set up to power the essential equipment and the rest of the building went dark. As for any others who shared the blackout, no power was sent back out of our buildings: in fact, it was dangerous and probably illegal to do so. I would imagine that some of those hotels would have 100% back-up and others may just have partial. The building would be wired, with a changeover switch and different sub panels to control where the emergency power went. I doubt that any would feed any power beyond their own property. Change over switches are required for generator operation so there is no chance of feeding power back out the incoming lines. This is for the safety of the people working on those circuits.

Oh, one thing I can tell you with absolute certainty, if you do not do regular tests of the generators UNDER THE FULL LOAD, then they WILL NOT WORK. I don't care if they were serviced 15 minutes ago, they will not run if they are not regularly load tested. Most TVs did this for about an hour, once a week, usually on Saturday morning during the cartoon shows.




My wife just informed me the resort mecca of Laughlin, Nevada, is without electrical power for the past hour and a half. She subscribes to facebook spinoff, Laughlin Buzz, and reports began pouring in about an hour ago. A Vegas T-V station has confirmed it, with video of a very large substation fire, obviously to me, burning transformer cooling oil, no other combustibles present there, to my knowledge.

My first thoughts were, how is a town of 9,000 with total weekend population likely at 15,000 or more, especially this time, a major annual off-road race scheduled, fed it's power from the grid? Surely, via at least two sources, substations, ya think, or know? I don't know. Outside of my level of experience. Buzz reports say the entire town is black. One comment complained, PC dictates that's the improper word: dark is appropriate (??!).

BS aside, we started conjecturing. Each resort hotel has several BIG emergency power generators; we walk by them often, entering or leaving via employee or other non-main entrances. To what degree can such EGs be matched to power-up the enormous electrical loads of these establishments? Anybody got such info? What of all the dozens of restaurants with their buffet steam tables? Elevators? The River Lodge Resort has 18 of them!

We walked the entire river walk today from the Lodge down to Riverside Casino and back, 3 miles total. I both marvel and cringe, thinking about the guys keeping these behemoths running. Having been a Facilities Engineer, faced with machinery and production implications, these folks deal with the public, a different kind of "customer".

A flash from the wife just now. Scott Johnson, Admin of the Laughlin Buzz, was in the Aquarius Casino with his wife when the power went out, almost 2 hours ago. Some gaming tables still going, minimal lighting via EGs, some slots still being played. No level of vital concern......

Video of the substation burning was very moving, huge flames, the news report stated 4 transformers were sited there, heat had engulfed some in addition to the one which had "exploded". Could these babies be PCB filled? imp

danlb
02-21-2016, 04:22 PM
Oh, one thing I can tell you with absolute certainty, if you do not do regular tests of the generators UNDER THE FULL LOAD, then they WILL NOT WORK. I don't care if they were serviced 15 minutes ago, they will not run if they are not regularly load tested. Most TVs did this for about an hour, once a week, usually on Saturday morning during the cartoon shows.

The phone company has generators at each location too. We'd run them monthly, switching the load from commercial to generator. We'd run on generator for quite a while before switching back. It was not much of a risk, since the equipment ran of of a huge battery bank. If the generator failed we would run for 12 to 24 hours on battery alone.

The computer centers were much more troublesome. Transfer to generator always caused the UPS to kick in, and at least once a year we'd have a UPS that failed to switch properly. Whatever ran of the faulty UPS went down. :(

The strange thing is that I only recall one case of the generators failing to start in my 25+ years at the phone company. That was a case where the power failed before the shiny new turbine had a chance to cool down from a test a few minutes before. I heard that the turbine was not to be restarted for some period of time after shutdown.

Now that I'm retired, I run my home generator faithfully every month. I only forget to do it about 7 times a year.

Dan

Baz
02-21-2016, 04:50 PM
We had a backup system with a big flywheel to supply power for the couple of minutes until the generator got up to speed. I guess they never tested it as the first time it was needed they found some dunderhead had wired in the aircon...... Must ask someone about the big genny where I am now as I've never heard a test run.
For power cuts I have the woodburner and candles and spare laptop battery but with no eees the broadband router goes down aaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh.
edit : of course I have a backup treadle lathe and Tilley lamp.:D

boslab
02-21-2016, 06:56 PM
I did a little work in a telephone exchange once, it had back up units made by sperry in the floor, aparently they were giant gyros that ran in a vacuum enclosure embedded in concrete in case they exploded, several tons each I was told, if the power fails these couple to alternators to keep power on the phones for a long time, and they had diesel generators as well, on top of that battery rooms too, they weren't taking chances!
Mark

Black_Moons
02-21-2016, 07:57 PM
Maybe someone was inspired by the Metcalf substation attack.
With the limited redundancy in the US grid, attacking transformers is a terrorists wet dream. With a delivery time of more than a year for a replacement, people will be inconvenienced for a long time.
Igor

I always wondered what would happen in that case. Or just loosened bolts on a high voltage tower and waited for the wind to blow over a set of towers.

J Tiers
02-21-2016, 09:27 PM
The powercos are now stockpiling transformers of most distribution sizes. But obviously not in 1 for 1 quantity. And often not in the largest sizes.

If transformers were more standard than they are in large sizes, this issue would be less of a problem, as there would be more interchangeability. There are standard pieces, but there are several standards in case of many sizes, as I am told. It seems to go by powerco.

woodenbird
02-21-2016, 10:40 PM
For the high voltage transformers, most are custom built for the size and power rating needed. There are exceptions of course where a spare can be had (ie an older unit that has been changed out and is kept for standby. The smaller units can be economically kept around for spares - not so the the great big Txs.

J Tiers
02-21-2016, 11:04 PM
For the high voltage transformers, most are custom built for the size and power rating needed. There are exceptions of course where a spare can be had (ie an older unit that has been changed out and is kept for standby. The smaller units can be economically kept around for spares - not so the the great big Txs.

The area disty ones are for sure being stockpiled. Most powercos have had some for a while. The generator output units are not so much, There may be one extra pre-installed at a powerhouse, that's not so rare.... otherwise not.

imp
02-21-2016, 11:38 PM
Here is a guy's vid from afar, still an impressively large fire; hope it glues.


https://www.facebook.com/mark.villalovos/videos/10207923982964796/

A still shot, hopefully:


https://www.facebook.com/mohavevalleydailynews/photos/a.454473801250262.105186.158659934164985/1137549062942729/?type=3&theater

Willy
02-21-2016, 11:56 PM
Maybe I missed something but this story sounds like a major yawn, to me at any rate. Did someone stub their toe in the dark?

9,000 folks without power for about 3.5 hours on a Friday night. (http://lasvegassun.com/news/2016/feb/19/massive-outage-leaves-more-than-5000-without-power/) Not bitterly cold or scorching hot, a little inconvenient perhaps but nowhere as inconvenient as power outages that last for weeks due to ice storms or hurricanes.
Must be a slow day in the news room.

imp
02-22-2016, 12:32 AM
Ha can't gamble at a casino. In 1992 we went 17 days without power after Hurricane Andrew here. I live only 2 miles from the power plant (NG) and 3 miles from the coast. The power company lost 50 miles of HV transmission lines and towers and 100k wood poles. Also went 18 days under dusk to dawn martial law. Nothing like watching HUMVEEs with guys carrying M16s around your neighborhood to shape your political views. Just look at New Orleans and how fast the US can go back to 3rd world survival of the fittest. The only one responsible for your family is you.

Yours is the most fitting tribute to sudden disastrous event consideration, and I, for one, am moved by it. 100,000 power poles?? Christ. Your last sentence is the most fitting. I like it. imp

imp
02-22-2016, 12:41 AM
Maybe I missed something but this story sounds like a major yawn, to me at any rate. Did someone stub their toe in the dark?

9,000 folks without power for about 3.5 hours on a Friday night. (http://lasvegassun.com/news/2016/feb/19/massive-outage-leaves-more-than-5000-without-power/) Not bitterly cold or scorching hot, a little inconvenient perhaps but nowhere as inconvenient as power outages that last for weeks due to ice storms or hurricanes.
Must be a slow day in the news room.

I expect you are being rather overly nonchalant. Thousands of folks within enclosed buildings, many terrified beyond belief, having travelled maybe hundreds
of miles to see some event, or spend the weekend "away from it all", faced with the inability at that moment of even finding their way back to their hotel rooms..... I fail to see how the "newsroom" fits into the picture here. Guess how many felonies were committed in the darkness. Yeah, hurricanes are bad news, but WHERE they hit, are predictable and expected to some degree. This, unprecedented. My opinion. imp

nc5a
02-22-2016, 03:08 AM
I didn't know there was so much electrical power experience on this site.

Power outages are quite interesting when dissected in millisecond bites. I once sat through a 4 hour analysis of the largest power outage in the history of the state of Alaska, the outage that I caused. It's a long story but suffice to say as soon as I hit the enter button on the keyboard to change a trip parameter on one of the two largest gas turbines in the state all hell broke loose. We had complete power outages and brown outs from Fairbanks to Homer, a distance of over 500 miles. Power was restored in a couple hours but not without issues.

During my career I experienced first and second hand, transformer and circuit breaker fires, explosions and mechanical failures, hydrogen explosions and a bunch of mechanical and electrical failures in various power plant systems. But can't image experienced anything like New Orleans. H380's comment in quote below is on target.

"Just look at New Orleans and how fast the US can go back to 3rd world survival of the fittest. The only one responsible for your family is you."

Well Done 380

Chris Evans
02-22-2016, 04:21 AM
What a great thread. I am a new member here in the UK and love most things you guys in the USA talk about. We recently had a sub station fire in the next village, we where out of power for around 8 hours then for a few hours daily for the next month whilst we waited for the fix. The sub station was next to a Gas station so hard for the fire crews.

Willy
02-22-2016, 09:28 AM
I expect you are being rather overly nonchalant. Thousands of folks within enclosed buildings, many terrified beyond belief, having travelled maybe hundreds
of miles to see some event, or spend the weekend "away from it all", faced with the inability at that moment of even finding their way back to their hotel rooms..... I fail to see how the "newsroom" fits into the picture here. Guess how many felonies were committed in the darkness. Yeah, hurricanes are bad news, but WHERE they hit, are predictable and expected to some degree. This, unprecedented. My opinion. imp

Yeah we all know how that works out.

wierdscience
02-22-2016, 10:23 AM
I expect you are being rather overly nonchalant. Thousands of folks within enclosed buildings, many terrified beyond belief, having travelled maybe hundreds
of miles to see some event, or spend the weekend "away from it all", faced with the inability at that moment of even finding their way back to their hotel rooms..... I fail to see how the "newsroom" fits into the picture here. Guess how many felonies were committed in the darkness. Yeah, hurricanes are bad news, but WHERE they hit, are predictable and expected to some degree. This, unprecedented. My opinion. imp

I'm never surprised by any number of felonies,what amazes me are all the kids born 9 months after a natural disaster,power outage etc.Guess there isn't anything else to do when the lights are off :D

michigan doug
02-22-2016, 01:06 PM
The chances are small that any particular individual will be drastically affected by a power outage. Most are well under 24 hours.

But...when it does go on for more than a day, the thin veneer of civilization becomes quickly apparent.


I mostly exercise my generator once a month...