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Thread: OT: Are pre-emptive power outages normal?

  1. #1
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    Default OT: Are pre-emptive power outages normal?

    I live near Silicon Valley (25 miles NE) and we are under an extreme fire hazard watch. 10% to 25% humidity and wind gusts of 20 - 50 MPH have made the local power company (PG&E) nervous. The last time we had similar conditions the "Camp" fire burned down a city and killed a lot of people. PG&E got blamed and settled with the survivors for 11 Billion dollars, going bankrupt in the process.

    Fast forward to today. They may or may not be killing power to my city, Just in Case. It may be out for several days or even a week. We'll know tomorrow.

    Are preemptive outages normal in other places? We've had so few outages that my 13 year old generator has less than 50 hours on it, and much of that is bi-monthly maintenance runs.

    Dan
    At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and extra parts.

  2. #2
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    I've never heard of it, but I wonder how much the chance of fire increases when suddenly there are a few thousand people firing up their generators? Ever see a small IC engine running full tilt at night? Occasional glowing red little bits of carbon and muffler baffle coming out?
    I just need one more tool,just one!

  3. #3
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    No, PG&E needs to have the crap sued out of them for failure to maintain their system, which caused all those fires last time. Unfortunately your AG (who is running for president) refused to prosecute due to political connections...

  4. #4
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    Dan, you've been around here long enough to remember the 1999-2000 PG&E power outages - rolling blackouts everywhere. I vividly remember being trapped in an elevator in Walnut Creek (office building) with two or three others - black, nothing worked, incipient panic. We were there for about a half hour, and I spent that time calming the others. Finally the power came back on and we got out.

    PG&E was deliberately shutting power off to customers because they (PG&E) were gaming the electrical supply system - a fact that was clearly established after the fact. PG&E paid rather large fines but seem to think that was just "business as usual". They called it "rolling blackouts".

    I bought a generator and transfer switch immediately after that and suggest that anyone else within the service area of PG&E (sometimes called Pacific Graft and Extortion) do the same.

    This is a rogue corporation that's going to do whatever they want, even though they're in bankruptcy now.

    PG&E is a bad actor.

    Get your generator (and transfer switch)...

    -js
    There are no stupid questions. But there are lots of stupid answers. This is the internet.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by nickel-city-fab View Post
    No, PG&E needs to have the crap sued out of them for failure to maintain their system, which caused all those fires last time. Unfortunately your AG (who is running for president) refused to prosecute due to political connections...
    Ahem. PG&E is in bankruptcy proceedings right now. Beating a dead horse?
    There are no stupid questions. But there are lots of stupid answers. This is the internet.

  6. #6
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    I'm fairly certain that this has to be California from United States of America -specific problem.

    Uncontrolled (capitalistic) monopoly for basic infrastructure is usually bad news.
    In here some local power companies charge extortion-sized fees too..

  7. #7
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    Disclaimer: I worked for PG&E in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

    The odd thing is that it's no longer a monopoly. They aren't the only ones to generate power anymore. They sold around 1/2 of their generating plants. They were required by law to buy power from the companies who bought the assets on a spot (one day at a time) market.

    The gaming of the system in 1999-2000 was being done by the companies who bought the power plants. They planned maintenance for multiple power sources at the same time, creating a shortage. They tied up transmission lines with faked transactions. They cost PG&E around 40 BILLION dollars. The wiki page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Califo...tricity_crisis appears to match what I heard at the time.

    Nickle-city-fab noted that PG&E caused the fires last time. It was just last month that it came out that a downed pole (I think) at a customer site (a winery???) caused the fire. The downed pole was owned and maintained by the customer. In short, PG&E maintenance was not the cause of the fire.

    I've seen rolling blackouts and can understand that idea; there is not enough power to satisfy demand. This is different because it's preemptive outage based on the idea that a de-energized power pole starts no fires. I've never heard of such a thing before.

    Dan
    At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and extra parts.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Stewart View Post
    Ahem. PG&E is in bankruptcy proceedings right now. Beating a dead horse?
    Ahh yes, bankruptcy automatically stays all pending litigation. I forgot about that, they certainly didn't file from being broke, all the money is in the board member's pockets. I hope the OP is a member if the class. As far as the fires starting on private property, I've heard otherwise from reliable sources. Then there is the issue of that little gas line explosion a few years ago...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattiJ View Post
    I'm fairly certain that this has to be California from United States of America -specific problem.

    Uncontrolled (capitalistic) monopoly for basic infrastructure is usually bad news.
    In here some local power companies charge extortion-sized fees too..
    The power companies are a state (as in California or Iowa, etc) authorized monopoly, or if there are multiple companies, they all fall under state commission supervision. As such, they operate under the rules established for their operation. So they are not totally uncontrolled.

    This depends on the state Public Utilities Commission, as well as State law. Some are more loose , others rather tightly controlled. California has been a bit of a mess ever since the days of Enron. Some areas have had to pay very high rates due to agreements made back then, and there seem to be other problems as well.

    The last thing any government wants to do is get involved in being a power company. And it probably would be an even bigger mess. Government is satisfied with supervision, such as it is. It's a balance, the company has a right to make a profit, but not too big a profit. In most areas, rates are one of the things supervised.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by danlb View Post
    ...................... PG&E got blamed and settled with the survivors for 11 Billion dollars, going bankrupt in the process.

    ................
    Dan
    Quote Originally Posted by danlb View Post

    Nickle-city-fab noted that PG&E caused the fires last time. It was just last month that it came out that a downed pole (I think) at a customer site (a winery???) caused the fire. The downed pole was owned and maintained by the customer. In short, PG&E maintenance was not the cause of the fire.

    .....................

    Dan
    Any word on how this latest development will affect the lawsuit against PG&E since they have now been appearently exonerated from direct liability?
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