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  • BIG Power Outage: Off Topic, OT

    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
    IF IT'S ELECTRICITY, IT'S ME.

  • #2
    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.
    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

    Comment


    • #3
      There WAS a major coal burning power plant in Laughlin. Bet they wish it was still there.

      Originally posted by wiki
      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.
      At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and extra parts.

      Location: SF East Bay.

      Comment


      • #4
        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
        IF IT'S ELECTRICITY, IT'S ME.

        Comment


        • #5
          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.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by darryl View Post
            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.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Puckdropper View Post
              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.

              Originally posted by imp
              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
              Last edited by danlb; 02-20-2016, 12:57 AM.
              At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and extra parts.

              Location: SF East Bay.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Puckdropper View Post
                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.
                1601

                Keep eye on ball.
                Hashim Khan

                Comment


                • #9
                  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

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    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
                    IF IT'S ELECTRICITY, IT'S ME.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      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.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        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.



                        Originally posted by imp View Post
                        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
                        Paul A.
                        SE Texas

                        Make it fit.
                        You can't win and there IS a penalty for trying!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Paul Alciatore View Post

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

                          Location: SF East Bay.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            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.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              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

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