Power outages



  • After reading about millions of people in the USA going without power after the hurricane, and remembering all the other times over the last few years that large numbers of people in the USA going without power for days or weeks at a time, had me thinking when the last power outage (of more than a few seconds) I experienced. It must have been 2008 and the power was out for 2-3 hours. Before that would have been about 2005 for 3-4 hours.

    In fact I can't remember any power outage that lastest more than a few hours, since the "power strikes" of the 1980s.

    I mentioned this to my wife and do you know what happened yesterday (to her)? A 20 minute power outage!

    How often does power go out where you live? Does talking about them cause them to happen? :)



  •  I think I had one for half an hour three years ago.



  • @dhromed said:

     I think I had one for half an hour three years ago.

    In many places in India, power is controlled by power supply companies. Rolling brownout and blackout are very common to conserve power so it can be diverted from household to industrial belts. So you're lucky. Here darkness is way of life, unless you stay in big city like New Delhi. Pocket of hyderabad also suffer from blackout severe times a day.



  • Just shy of two days (41 hours) a couple of years back, thanks to the general incompetence of DTE Energy.  (I actually filed an MPSC complaint over that one.)

    Before that, it was the northeast blackout back in 2003.



  • Hmmm, we had some long ones, like 20 years ago, nowadays is maybe 20 or 30 minutes if there is a huge problem in the electric grid or power plant and some long ones if weather conditions are very, very bad (like an hurricane passing nearby) depending on where you live. I guess that is ok, taking into account that I live in a third world country and a shitty one at that.
    @Nagesh said:

    In many places in India, power is controlled by power supply companies. Rolling brownout and blackout are very common to conserve power so it can be diverted from household to industrial belts. So you're lucky. Here darkness is way of life, unless you stay in big city like New Delhi. Pocket of hyderabad also suffer from blackout severe times a day.


    So we are better off than India? Score!!



  • @Nagesh said:

    In many places in India, power is controlled by power supply companies. Rolling brownout and blackout are very common to conserve power so it can be diverted from household to industrial belts. So you're lucky. Here darkness is way of life, unless you stay in big city like New Delhi. Pocket of hyderabad also suffer from blackout severe times a day.

    So basically like Los Angeles under Enron?

    Seriously though, mine went out about 2-3 hours last year. I'd say we have maybe half-day or full-day outages maybe once every 3-4 years where I live. It blips (goes out for a fraction of second, just long enough to reboot clocks and computers) maybe twice a year, usually in high winds.

    We did have a big storm a few years back (2007?) that took out power to Mercer Island in Seattle for something like 3 weeks. That was pretty crazy. But where I was the power didn't even blip.

    The consensus among thinking people where I am is that the US power grid is creaky, ancient, and badly in need of renovation. But actually it works pretty damned well, so maybe it's not as bad as we all think.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    The consensus among thinking people where I am is that the US power grid is creaky, ancient, and badly in need of renovation.

    I think the biggest problem with the US power grid is that for the most part, it's hanging from poles instead of underground.

    In 1985, hurricane Gloria flattened the power grid on Long Island, and we lost power for 8 days. This time, with Sandy, I lost power for 5 days (in NJ), and some folks still don't have power after nearly 3 weeks. Again, the grid is entirely above ground. There have been a few blackouts (> several hours) over the years, and countless blips (just long enough to reset clocks and cause reboots).

    Interestingly, in > 50 years, I have NEVER experienced an outage in natural gas. Nor have I ever really heard of one anywhere (except maybe on barrier islands that were just overwhelmed with storm surge). The pipes are just as old as the wires above, but they're underground.

    Food for thought.



  • @snoofle said:

    The pipes are just as old as the wires above, but they're underground.

    Food for thought.

     

    Like communications lines, the idea of placing them above ground meant they were more accessible for modifications and upgrades.

    We get the occasional outage in UK, but it's quite far and few between. Power can be rerouted fairly quickly (within 5 mins?); the most we've been without power has been a couple of hours at most when repairs were needed. I'm not sure if the same could be said if the lines were underground - in the sense that we may not actually have lost power if they were.

    There are, however, many cases of internet connectivity being lost in the UK due to roadworks accidently severing communications lines buried underground. There's not many cases of telegraph poles coming down, but then we don't get the same storms as you lot over the pond do.

    It just takes the wrong type of leaf to stop the trains.

     



  • @snoofle said:

    I think the biggest problem with the US power grid is that for the most part, it's hanging from poles instead of underground.

    In my neighborhood, all of the lines are underground, though you don't have to go too far before you get back into above ground lines. I recall losing power for a few hours several years ago when a local transformer was hit by lightning or something. But we haven't lost power due to wind and trees, even when thousands of people nearby have.

    If we lost power due to downed lines, it means that something big went down, and it will be a high priority due to the number of people affected. Probably another big difference is the suburban nature of so much of America. Lots of power lines, lots of trees growing around them (because few people seem to keep their trees properly trimmed around them) just makes a ripe situation for lines going down.



  • Even when 3/4 of my state was declared a disaster zone (January 2011) we didn't lose power for more than a few seconds, and only lost internet for a few hours.

    @snoofle said:

    I think the biggest problem with the US power grid is that for the most part, it's hanging from poles instead of underground.

    From what I understand of the US power grid there's a transformer on almost every pole? That, to me, seems very fragile.

    The estate where I grew up had about 40 houses spread over almost 2km and only two transformers. I guess 240V (~400V 3-phase) travels further than your lower voltage? :)

    @snoofle said:

    I have NEVER experienced an outage in natural gas

    FTF Me. I've only lived in places with either electric everything, or bottled LPG for hot water/stove. Some friends have piped natural gas, so it is available in limited areas. Most places I've lived has above ground power; my current house is my first with above ground phone line. The house I mentioned above had a pole to accept the above-ground power, but then it went into conduit and the last ~10m was underground.

    @snoofle said:

    The pipes are just as old as the wires above, but they're underground.

    I think they are maintained better? It is very bad for a gas leak to happen, and much easier to let electric wires to just "be".



  • @Cassidy said:

    Like communications lines, the idea of placing them above ground meant they were more accessible for modifications and upgrades.

    The technology for putting high-voltage transmission lines underground didn't exist until "recently". mid-70s, I think? Our grid was build and finished by the end of the 40s.


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