Inventor Peter Sumaruck explains the reasons for The Great Southwest Power Outage of September 8, 2011.
Tue 13 Sep 2011 07:37 PM PDT – Archive Reconstruction due to pilfering of Zero-Amp Technology website on Feb. 25, 2012
An accident – Impossible to happen that way, “Redundancy…3 times is the minimum, 5 to 8 times if the situation is critical,” Peter Sumaruck says, regarding power plants. “They’re automated, too many safeguards for that to happen,” (the outage)… “those plants have to be that way because it’s such a dangerous place to work, even back in Edison’s time, terribly dangerous, more dangerous than being in combat.” So they have protective protocols and procedures.
Good reasons for the redundancy, checks on everything, nothing left to chance.
Directly after this Big One – the biggest outage of the 21st Century – all the first reports coming out said it was due to one lone worker, per CNN. Some say an employee of “Arizona Public Service Co. (the utility) was handling a capacitor when the short circuit occurred, which knocked out a major transmission line,” per Michael Niggli, chief operating officer atSan Diego Gas and Electric. Other media reports claim the worker was “replacing a broken capacitor,” or “changing out a capacitor.”
“First, it can’t be just one guy because he wouldn’t be able to get at a capacitor to do that,” says inventor Pete Sumaruck, “but if he could, changing a capacitor isn’t like that; you have a bypass tray, you wire in the new capacitor, then pull out the old one, but in a power plant, it’s automatic switching – what they say is completely impossible,” says Sumaruck.
“They needed to ask one or several master electricians about these things instead of the head of the utility company; it only makes them (the company) look incompetent.” …”they have all these backups and automation, this had to be a deliberate test of the system, just doing this as a test.” Sumaruck was a master electrician for 30 years.
Another quote from Michael Neggli, “automatic safeguards prevented the Thursday afternoon blackout from spreading even further,” but said investigations will be necessary to determine why those safeguards…did not work completely.
Neggli does admit they have safeguards but the outage lasted 12 hours – question – why did it happen at all. Here is a strange quote from San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn, “The good news is that everything we have prepared for worked like clockwork.” This says they planned for an outage.
Yuma wouldn’t do that; they are too safety-conscious – in April of 2010, CalEnergy’s Yuma Coqeneration Plant won a “coveted” award, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s highest level of “participation and recognition.” OSHA cited the Yuma facility for its “team-based approach that ensures all employees are actively engaged in the safety and health program” and “widespread use of engineering controls to protect employees from hazards.”
There are the redundancies we spoke of. So if they admit they do have layers of “engineering controls” in place to protect both the workers and equipment, why were they not effective…unless it was a test to check that the redundancies were interfacing with other sections of the grid.
The “Yuma Sun” offered an unofficial report on the afternoon of the outage, “that a 500k line between Yuma and Phoenix was down. That could not be confirmed, however.”
Actually nothing could be confirmed from Phoenix on the 8th – a sort-of “news outage” had taken place – absolutely no internet posting from the Arizona Republic newspaper directly after the outage. Maybe the outage did move east, but why not say so.
If the blackout moved east, if only in a small way, Arizona has power plants that could have helped.
The question should be asked – why was Yuma chosen as the place for the outage to begin. What special significance does Yuma hold in the scheme of grid power movement. The media reported that a major line comes in from the east to the west coast through Yuma. Why is Yuma their shining light and not Cholla.
Yuma is a baby in the energy business, producing only 56-megawatts, and 19 staff members, as of last year compared to Cholla, near Holbrook, AZ. Looking at the 995-megawatt coal powered, Cholla plant– located east of Flagstaff – we can imagine that this might be a plant that could step in if Yuma experienced an emergency, especially since it is operated by the utility, Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) the same utility company forYuma. Map is well-worth viewing.
Inventor, Pete Sumaruck was just there; the highway goes right by it. On the phone he described it to me – 4 units with 2 small nuclear reactors to help power the plant – power to make power – but also mounds of coal outside near the road. Cholla is a dirty business.
Here is the most interesting thing about the Cholla plant. Of the 4 units, 3 are owned by APS, but the 4th is owned by Pacific Northern (PAC) and is the largest of the 4, at 380-megawatts. PAC and APS participate in a seasonal power trade, where PAC customers in the Pacific Northwest receive power from APS, and Arizona gets PAC’s larger amount of power for their peak heat season.
A good arrangement/they work together on serving utility needs for 2 regions. Right now would still be Phoenix’s peak season due to the heat and use of air conditioning. That means that right now, Cholla is producing more power for Arizona than for the rest of the year – Cholla could have sent power to Yuma, especially since Yuma didn’t need that much, as a small town and area. Plus, this shows that Cholla has a main line power connection to the Pacific Northwest. It would have been possible to pick up Yuma’s slack when they went down.
They knew this all along – Again, that’s something for the test to verify, and make a protocol for future transmissions – this test is turning out to be very useful. But then, they knew this all along; they just didn’t make the test public.
For the layman, this power outage should be a Master’s course of study in familiarization with the various different agencies and consultancies involved in transporting of power from place to place. What this also says is that for every agency involved in energy transmission, your utility bill goes up. And the list of organizations is growing, instead of simplifying.
Compare to wind power – “The California Emergency Management Agency on Thursday night (the night of the blackout) activated the Southern Region Emergency Operations Center in Los Alamitos (which is close to Long Beach and not near San Diego) to monitor the effect of the outage and help coordinate state resources if needed,” from theOrange County Register – some of the outage occurred in both Orange County and San Bernardino County. The Operations Center monitored the outage but did not act to help.
What that means is, they could have helped if they saw fit, or if ordered to do so; they had the ability to share power if needed. And it was needed… but apparently they did not share.
Or were they not told to share. Are there problems in the line of command.
In all the media reports, the word “fragile” appears, and is accompanied by quotation marks as if to say, some other source gave them this word to be sure to use. This word “fragile” means nothing in this context. It sound more like a patient in a hospital – this is anthropomorphizing technology. The word appears too frequently to link to the many sources, but suffice to report several instances of the word “fragile.”
This claim about fragility sounds like a guilt and responsibility encouragement to bring those who suffered the outage, into a “community” attitude – build a consensus of “working together” when this is actually not a “we” but rather, a “they” situation. “I think it’s one of these things that show people how important community is,” San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said. This is a false contention – an attempt at “feel good.”
Pete Sumaruck shakes his head at how ridiculous this is “This shows how the government manipulates people, makes guinea pigs of its citizens.”
According to Michael Niggli COO and President of SDG&E, “Southland’s energy system remained ‘fragile’ in the aftermath of the massive outage,” as he asked customers to restrict their power usage; residents were encouraged to avoid the use of air conditioners, or set them at 78 degrees. Major appliances such as washers and dryers should not be used on Friday.
Stephanie McCorkle at the California ISO (grid manager) said, “Conservation will really help reduce the strain,” (take a Valium). Mr. Niggli also asked that customers not use their cell phones.
“This is simply not true, none of it. Charging you cell uses hardly any power.” Pete Sumaruck laughed. “every place in this country has plenty of energy; the standard for power utilities is to have 125% of power on hand at all times. Nobody is going to run out of power, ever.”
Pete and I talked about the problem of the 3 million gallons of sewage overflowing onto the beaches. He said, “That would be a legitimate problem.”
I said, “Water treatment, that’s one of those industries that needs a backup generator.” Unfortunately, there is always someone or business to take advantage of a disaster, even a supposed disaster…backup generators will now be in higher demand.
The power failure caused a 3.2 million gallon sewage spill from San Diego’s wastewater treatment system into the Torrey Pines State Beach area as well as the Sweetwater River. The San Diego Department of Environmental Health said it would post warning signs at all beaches north of the Scripps Pier through Del Mar and Solona Beach. The department is also posting contamination warnings at Bayside Park in Chula Vista and the San Diego Bay near Silver Stand.
The city also warned that tens of thousands of people might have to boil water after a number of pump stations and filtration systems shut down. How many individuals were sickened from unpurified water.
All this brings to mind a sci-fi movie, or a practice event for some great conflagration.
Chief operating officer, Michael Niggli stated, “Essentially, we have 2 connections from the rest of the world: One from the north and one is to the east. Both connections were severed.”
That is too simplistic…and what about the “lone gunman” (sorry, different history) in Yuma starting this debacle by cutting the eastern connection.
What about this mention now, of the Northern connection being severed. Has Mr. Niggli been misquoted; did he make a slip or are these new facts, only now made public. Until now, no one has mentioned two severed connections and will continue to be the only mention, through the weekend.
On Friday morning, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman, Jon Wellinghoff announced they would conduct a full investigation into the outage, along with the nonprofitNorth American Electric Reliability Corp.
“This inquiry is an effective way for us to protect consumers and ensure the reliability for the bulk power system.”
It’s only Friday morning – the outage ended just a very few hours ago in the early morning – interesting they have there investigation meetings already planned. Well, they would have to hurry; it’s Friday and they must instill immediate confidence in their tarnished industry, what with all the media attention going to 9/11 events of Saturday and Sunday. They want the public to believe they are adamantly proactive on this, right now – all extremely micromanaged in this effort.
This is not believable.
Moving the blame – Remember the poor fool who mishandled the capacitor in Yuma. Now it’s the day after the outage and the consensus is that the man was innocent (if there was a person at all). In this valuable video, CBS reporter interviews Michael Shanes, the Director of Utility Consumers Action Network. Shanes tells viewers it was not one worker in Yuma who started this blackout. It was an employee in the controls section of San Diego Gas and Electric who made a terrible miscalculation.
Stories abound, but who was the miscreant at SDG&E.
Now Niggli says, “A transmitter line between AZ and CA was severed causing the outage…or the extreme heat in some areas also may have caused problems with the lines.” Now he is blaming the heat.
Are they now realizing they shouldn’t have scheduled a test during the summer heat.
If this was merely a test by say, the Department of Defense or the Department of Energy, what about the human toll on the population – heat stroke. It was 113 degrees in Yuma in the evening of the blackout…what about Palm Springs and the retirement communities in the desert, or less affluent parts of the areas involved – heat can be deadly for anyone.
Of course hospitals have emergency backup generators, usually 3 backups. It takes 17 seconds for a backup system to power up. People can die in 17 seconds. If this were only a test, is it fair to subject individuals to these extreme possibilities. What if a lung machine or dialysis batteries were not monitored; what if someone died because of this – one person is too many to lose. Will we ever know.
Authorities quickly ruled out terrorism, which was on many minds in the days leading up the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. But could it have been the terrorism of our own government. Media articles referenced many interviews with locals and their opinions, from believing everything officials said to the other extreme, “In all honesty, at first I did think it was a little too convenient, a little too widespread,” said Ryan Valencia of San Diego, telling CNN. “I thought it was a little fishy.”
Last year I wrote about power outages not being necessary in Brazil. Brazil has Pete Sumaruck’s technology but they have weaponized it. I showed pictures of Rio in the dark and talked about how none of that is necessary. But Brazilians came by it honestly; something went awry with their largest dam, Itaipu, and its hydro electrical project.
Now I am sorry for criticizing them; a giant power outage is a terrible thing in the modern world. It’s there business what they do with Zero-Amp Technology. Yes, Brazil could power their entire country with this technology but I can’t make decisions for them; I can’t change their priorities. If the United States orchestrated the largest power outage of this century to serve as a test, then I am ashamed of my own country – as simple as that.
This was not Pete Sumaruck’s first time driving past the wind farms in California’s Tehachapi Mountains, “I’ve gone past those wind turbines 30 times at least. Over years of taking this road I’ve never seen them fully operational – maybe only five turbines moving, out of thousands.”
There are 5,000 turbines up there and always a windy day, one of the windiest places in the world. Energy produced in these wind farms is sold to Southern California Edison, and could have been sent to San Diego via the Regional Emergency Operations Center in Los Alamitos, but hardly any of them are in use.California must have such an excess in power, that they don’t need energy from wind.
This is in direct opposition to a report in the “Yuma Sun,’ “California imports huge amounts of power from Arizona and other states.”
Pete, talking to me on the phone as he passes through fields of turbines, “It’s 7,000 ft. elevation, so much wind, 25 to 30 MPH where I am, must be 40 to 50 MPH up on the mountain. Looks like the smallest ones are 500kW, going up in size, 750kW – the mega ones are 200 feet high from the base – I see 8 of the huge ones, 1 to 5 megawatts, none of them working. Must be 99% of all these are not operating. The wind is strong here, I’m going against the wind, and my gas mileage has dropped by 4 gallons.”
“Obvious – they don’t want to fully generate. Then they would have to lower the rates…they don’t want to do that.” Pete says, “They could have sent the power to San Diego. We know they have plenty of power or they would be making more power from this wind farm. What they don’t want to do is lower the rates.”
Later on down the road, further north, heading toward Contra Costa County, Pete calls from the Altamont Pass – this is Pacific Gas and Electric country. Everyone has heard of the giant PG&E, and Altamont is the largest wind farm area in the world. The highway runs directly between the north and the south sections of the farm.“North side, a third of them are turning, maximum, including 5 of those 200 foot giants. On the south,” Pete tells me, “virtually none – I count only 10 turning. So it can’t be that the wind isn’t right – if some are turning, why not all of them, same day, same wind direction.”
The same is the case for Altamont as with Tehachapi – more power could be generated, free energy, but the utilities of California and surrounding states would rather not have free power; their priority is for increase profits.
You have expenses for energy and you have expenses for energy infrastructure. Are the infrastructure costs eclipsing the actual cost of the energy, with all the management and niche specialists to include the U.S. government and others as outsourced consultancy groups, and grid management – everyone wants a piece of the ever-expanding utility pie.
Perhaps the media could have gone more in depth with this important story, less casual about lights going out and customers heading for bars with generators, and pay more attention to a knowledge of electricity. Surely they could have found a master electrician to interview…or maybe they were told to go casual – dumb down the public.
Which officials knew of any of this outage in advance. There is the real possibility that this outage as a gross inconvenience was just a test of the country’s emergency network. And there has been the word going around for years that everything is tested first in California.
We will only know for sure if someone confesses. I don’t think it is possible to keep millions people quiet, especially since it was so close to 9/11 weekend. Someone will tell.
What we do know for sure is there are multiple inconsistencies in these many media reports. Also, we do know that there are many redundancies and protocols to protect workers in these dangerous occupations, and to protect electrical energy transmissions over long distances.
We do know that backup energy could have been coming from Arizona, from Northern California and further northwest. We have seen that it is not true that San Diego is connected to the grid by only two lines. We do know that there is plenty of energy available, and that there is much potential power in those many wind turbines sitting dormant.
We do know that The Big One outage was micromanaged so that the message to our government is that all these agencies are doing their part on cue – camera, action, but with some confusion as to their scripts.
Fear drives utility customers – afraid the light won’t come on. If this were a detective story there might be talk of bribery and extortion.
Oh, and let’s not forget…San Diego will now need to raise their utility rates because of the cost incurred during The Big Test of September 8, 2011 – $95 million to $128 million.
“It could take weeks or months to determine how the outage spread, utility officials said.”
These investigation do take a while. If you recall the act of sabotage toward fiber optic cables in 2009, in San Jose, Santa Clara County, it seemed to have been vandalism at several different locations. Maybe that was also a government test. There were investigations, but no word yet on the perpetrators. I think they would rather we forget about it.
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