28 December 2022

Power back on... but it only illustrates the scope of a crisis

Our power just came back on at 11:09 PM after being off for almost exactly 42 hours. A minor windstorm and mild winter weather. We have a lot of trees around here, but I still say that it's something like what happened to Southwest Airlines this week. Everything shaved too thin, more concern for shareholder profits than system operability, cavalier attitude towards the suffering and needs of customers deprived of power in Winter. We're supposed to be converting to an all electric future: electric heat pumps, electric cars, electric induction cooking, real time electric water heaters. But this will only work if America's utilities commit themselves to AT LEAST 99.9% continuous-on operation. We have had no fewer than 20 days of no power in the last four years here... do the math, that's more than .1% by a good deal. And it's not an hour here or there. We were without power in 2020 for 9 days straight... it was 40° inside our house. We had to move out, to a motel, with no compensation for the disruption it caused. This is just plain not good enough. And the cause was highly predictable winter weather that could've been anticipated and accommodated with adequate multiply redundant infrastructure, which is even more true of this present two-day outage. I intend to bring this problem to the attention of my State representatives. My solution is to make the private utility Portland General Electric into a public utility, and force it to commit to major upgrades in resilience and redundancy of infrastructure and capacity. I doubt this will happen anytime soon, but it's one of those things: the obvious and necessary solution... that will just have to come to pass eventually. 

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