Hurricane power procedure

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Old 09-16-08, 12:15 AM
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Hurricane power procedure

I have a nagging question that comes to mind every time we have a disaster like Ike hitting the TX coast. Why don't utilities make a conscious decision to shutdown power at some point before the storm hits. Maybe I am missing something but it makes no sense to me to leave power on when you know full well that almost all of it is going to be knocked out anyway. The big problem is it takes untold number of transformers, starts fires, kills people and on and on. It just makes no sense. All facilities that need power have backup and most of the area is evacuated. Just plain stupid in my book. If they don't turn it off they should at least tell leaving residents to turn off the electric main and shutoff all gas at the meter.
 
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Old 09-16-08, 01:18 AM
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That is good question to ask here.

That is not a common question to be appared in here but unforeally I know most POCO portocal { prodcures } useally leave them on long as they can.

Some can order the power plant to shut down or dump the load before compelty shut down and some of the power plants can't really shut down very fast especally with large steam { both conventeal fuel and nuke fuel }

The last time we have large POCO plant in my area when they " dumped " the load you can hear the steam valves kicked open to release the pressure from the boilers.
However ., to get back on line it will useally take more than few hours to get up the speed.

And the other thing is that most of the POCO's useally are grid tied to other POCO's grid so if one of the grids tripped it will have ripple effect { hint.., hint.,, blackout in east coast few years back }

Now to order to get the power back on they always start at the Power plant or substation centre and work it way out.

{ If you want more details I can get a hold of one guy I know him pretty well and he can able expain more details if you are instering with it and let me know }

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 09-16-08, 01:40 AM
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No, not everyone has back up. Most gas stations and grocery stores don't. That is just two of the reasons they don't. People need gas to evacuate. They need stores to buy supplies. And on the subject of stores imagine their liability for loss of refrigerated and frozen food that might not have been lost if they hadn't cut off power. Also if you cut off power there goes the traffic lights. Imagine evacuation with no working traffic lights.

Then there is medical necessity.. Through out any neighborhood there are people on medical support equipment. What about them.? What if you cut power to a hospital before their power is lost and their backup fails? Through out the city of Houston at low intersections there are pumps with no back up power source. Even if you wait till the winds are picking up you are still guaranteeing the intersections will flood. Yes, some will flood but others may not. Flooded intersections aren't just an inconvenience they interfere with emergency assistance.

The list of reasons why go on but bottom line most of the damage isn't due to the power being left on. Live or not a tree falling on a line will take it out.
 
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Old 09-16-08, 08:05 AM
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You argument has all good points but I am not talking about shutting down days before a storm but rather hours before expected failure when everyone in their right mind is long gone. I am sure a procedure could be worked out if it was known ahead of time. I do think that it should be well announced to turn off all services before you leave your home though. The reporters were talking about all of the fires burning and the intense smell of smoke everywhere. That form of destruction is almost always started by electric or gas. One famous restaurant that burned down, forget the name of it, the owner watched as a blown transformer started it. Firefighters could not respond in the storm. Glad I don't live in an area like that.
 

Last edited by dsc3507; 09-16-08 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 09-16-08, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by french277V View Post
That is good question to ask here.

That is not a common question to be appared in here but unforeally I know most POCO portocal { prodcures } useally leave them on long as they can.

Some can order the power plant to shut down or dump the load before compelty shut down and some of the power plants can't really shut down very fast especally with large steam { both conventeal fuel and nuke fuel }
Merci,Marc
Well I understand that but it is not a good argument because the load is going to be shedded anyway either voluntarily or in the midst of a storm and at it's mercy,

Originally Posted by french277V View Post
{ If you want more details I can get a hold of one guy I know him pretty well and he can able expain more details if you are instering with it and let me know }
Merci,Marc
Yes it is an interesting topic to me. I have not heard it discussed before although I am sure it has. I would love to hear more about it.
 
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Old 09-16-08, 10:27 AM
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I think the most applicable reason is that they are already so busy in the control centers making preparations for the emergency shutdowns that there is simply no time or manpower to devise an orderly shutdown procedure.

Remember, the power grid is not designed to be shut off. Every time a single piece of equipment is shut off for maintenance or upgrade, an operations engineer has to perform a switching study and draft a shutdown order to make sure that outage won't have unintended consequences. Doing that for an entire grid or entire section of a grid would be way more complicated than just reacting to the damage as it happens. And hoping to keep the lights on in as many areas as possible.
 
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Old 09-16-08, 05:42 PM
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This is an interesting discussion which I feel compelled to enter because I'm right in the thick of it.
My residential power dropped out about 9 PM Friday before the s*** hit the fan (after midnight). When I walked outside in the dark, I observed distant flashes followed in a few seconds by booms as the transformers blew. What caused their demise, I have no idea. At that time, the wind wasn't blowing hard enough to cross lines or fell trees. But I suspect that Centerpoint decided to shut down their system while they still had some transformers intact.
From what I hear on my portable radio, thousands of treemen and linemen have come to the rescue from all over the US to get us up and running so we can fill our tanks and replenish our foodstocks. GOD BLESS YOU, one and all.
It seems that Houston/Galveston has received most of the press, as New Orleans did with Katrina. It's true. We received a thorough pounding. But the truly hardest hit areas are up the coast towards and including western Louisiana. It could be many weeks before those folks get relief.
I'm still at my office where we do have power, A/C, phones, and computers. But when I get home, I may not. But many folks don't have power, food, water, sewers, or roofs.
I feel VERY fortunate.
 
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Old 09-16-08, 06:24 PM
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A/C & D/C > Hurricane power procedure

Power is needed unless it is a manidorty evacuation (not usually possible) and no one is left behind. Even in that case, it would not appreciable cut down on the fires and there is no real way to shut off the gas, unless you have a lot of people to re-lite pilots for a week or two.

In the 500+ homes I looked at after Katrina and Rita, fire before or during the hurricane was not the problem. Many fires occurred when the outages were corrected or the systems were turned back on. - Usually an hour ot two later for them to be noticable. I saw several homes that burned to the ground after surviving the storm itself once the system or homes were energized.

It is unfortunate that there were so few underground services where the biggest challenge is getting the plants and substations operating instead of flooding the neighborhoods with trucks and people. The live overhead wires being down instead of being buried hampered the clean-up and recovery in the early stages.

Dick
 
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Old 09-16-08, 11:52 PM
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I have been talking to lots of linemen and other people I know that work for or with the poco. They cant just shut it all down,even right before a storm. One, the elderly, Two, handicap, Three, the just plain stubborn folks. the lawsuits would be out of this world. This is just some of the things I am hearing from the power co. it self.

As for under ground. that would be a great idea. But it would cost three to four times as much as going overhead. No one wants to pay 3 or 4 times higher light bill.

The power went out for me Friday night, and i am still in the dark. I am among the blessed ones. I have place I go if needed. There are things people can do to prepare for the power going out. But so few do. And there are some that can't. The ones that can't are asked to leave before the power goes out. But as we all know. People don't always do as there told. Even if given the means to do so.


Travis
 
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Old 09-17-08, 12:38 AM
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Again, I understand all the arguments but if 99.99% of a given area is going to be out anyway then where's the lawsuits? Would they not also have lawsuits for damage done by their equipment with it left on? Heck from the pictures I have seen, like Katrina in the Gulfport/Biloxii areas, Ike wiped out whole areas. They just don't exist anymore and many others are so bad it is unlikey anyone will be back for a long time.

Someone else mentioned fires when power was turned back on. Again stupid. In an area that has been subjected to this much damage they should require that residents are present or remove meters before power is reapplied. Many of these residents can't get back to their homes before this happens.

If I were in an area where I had to evacuate I would remove my meter (Have a blank to put over it) and turn off the gas before I left. I guess it depends what you value more, a little convenience or your home.
 
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Old 09-17-08, 09:50 PM
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dsc...You are right. We have had a few fires from the power coming back on.

But it comes back to cost. No one wants to pay for the extra man power it would take to turn of all the power to where it MIGHT be the hardest hit. Most, (ok some) of the people that could see it was going to bad, did just what they are supposed to do. Turn everything off. If all the power was turned off by the poco. When the storm had passed. Going around turning the grids back on. It would take away manpower from where it is needed the most. I agree with you. But the dollar makes the rules. Not to mention all the calls to the power co. yelling, I NEED MY POWER back.

Travis
 
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Old 09-18-08, 09:44 PM
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Sorry DSC but you're just way off base. You keep saying 99.99% of people are gone and this simply is not true.

For Ike in particular, what you need to understand is that mandatory evacuation orders were only issued for the island of Galveston and some of the coastal regions where the storm surge was expected to be the worst. I live about 80 miles inland & there was no order or desire for us to evacuate (inlanders evacuating when orders were only issued for the coastal regions is what caused the mess on the highways for Rita) but we - and a vast majority of the 4th largest city in the US - lost power. 99% of the people effected by the outages did not and should not have evacuated (run from water, hide from wind).

Had the power companies shut down power - even a couple of hours before the high winds are expected to hit (the prediction of which, by the way, is far from an exact science) it would have wreaked much more havoc and done very little - if anything - to minimize damage & deaths related to the storm.

I am still without power (currently working on laptop battery power & pulling wireless from my neighbor with a generator), 5.5 days later, and greatly value the last few hours of time with power I had. I used that to make more ice, recharge more batteries and get as much info as I could on the storm - none of which would have been possible without power.

Feel free to come down & hang for the next hurricane if you'd like another perspective.
 
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Old 09-18-08, 10:26 PM
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OK sounds like a political question to me. If you asked 10 people if they would like to have their power shutoff at some point before a storm because it would protect them, their homes, and quite likely meant the power would come back sooner due to less infrastructure failure, I am sure you would have 5 say yes that sounds logical to me, go for it. While the other 5 would say "hell no" stay out of my business. Thats life and politics!
 
 

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