Saturday, 8 October 2016

According to the Energy Minister it was

"a software glitch" that caused the major power blackout. 
That is not what other people have been saying but perhaps we should believe him? After all government ministers always tell the truth don't they?
According to someone I know - not well but well enough to know where he once worked - the power outage was a good deal more complicated than that. I am inclined to believe him, after all he once worked in a power station as an engineer. 
The technicalities are beyond me but he seems to think it was a combination of factors - most of them avoidable - and that the power should not have been out for very long at all. Yes, power does go out from time to time but it should, according to him, normally be restored in a  very short time.  According to him there is nothing, apart from gross incompetence and lack of planning, that should cause an entire state to be blacked out for so long.
This state relies heavily on wind and solar power. There are problems with both - the wind has to blow and the sun has to shine and there has to be storage and backup. If the wind blows too much then the turbines have to be closed down. 
Sunshine isn't usually a problem. Our hot water system uses solar panels to heat the water and it is, on the whole, very efficient. But - and this  is the big "but" - it has a backup. On very overcast days the electrical backup kicks in and keeps us in hot water.
There was no backup for the state. The power plants that should have been able to kick in and keep the state moving had been "mothballed". Yes, they run on coal and gas and are considered environmentally unfriendly but they could have kept the state moving. 
Instead we lost an estimated billion dollars in lost production. There is also the increased power costs to individual households, the higher insurance premiums and the money which will need to be diverted from other services to pay for the overall mess. We already pay the highest power prices in the country - and they are likely to go even higher. 
This winter the Senior Cat has needed more heating. The fall he had at the beginning of the year made him less active. He is growing older. Even with a double layer of wool he felt the cold.  In summer he will need cooling. Our house has good roof insulation but it can still get too warm for him to be comfortable. We will find the money for the power to keep him comfortable even if we have to go without other things. But, many other people won't be able to afford that.
I can see one upside to all this. Some people will gravitate to the cool of the library or the shopping centre. They might mix more, socialise more, and feel a little less isolated. 
All the same it would be good if the government acknowledged a mistake and made sure that there was backup for the power supply.
Perhaps one of these days the batteries will be small enough and cheap enough for people to have their own personal power supply. It could work if the wind kept blowing and the sun kept shining.

1 comment:

virtualquilter said...

The fact that the whole state lost power at the same time shows that the system is a long way short of perfect.