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Re: Summary: Bay Area Power (2000-06-14)
From: Sean Donelan <sean () donelan com>
Date: 15 Jun 2000 16:13:48 -0700


Large power consumers can sign an interrupt able contract with a (deregulation)
power company.  Interruptible agreements give a discount in exchange
for the promise the customer will voluntarily curtail their usage
when asked.  If they don't, they get socked with penalties.  These
agreements have existed for decades.  On Thursday, PG&E asked its
interruptible customers once again to curtail their usage.

Involuntary curtailment is different.  The prediction is involuntary
curtailments and interruptions will become more commonplace as the
market adjusts to deregulation.  Hopefully, once deregulation is sorted
out the proper incentives will exist to construct additional transmission
and generation facilities.

Some electrical customers disconnect from the grid anytime a potential
exists for an unscheduled interruption.  For example, some sensitive
facilities switch to internal power anytime lightning strikes within
five miles.  They believe their internal power systems are better (albeit
more expensive to operate) than the utility power.  There is a different
school of thought which believes transferring to an alternate power
source is risky in and of itself, so its better to stay with the utility
until it fails, because the utility may not fail but the transfer could.

Finally, if you speak with the right people at the Edison Institute,
they are very frank, there is always the potential for an unscheduled
power interruption.  Anyone who absolutely, positively can not risk
any chance of an interruption should have an independent, standby power
source.

On Thu, 15 June 2000, gwright () thebiz net wrote:
lucifer () lightbearer com writes:
At least one major data center disconnected from the grid and went to
generator power, prior to the rolling blackouts. The motivation was not
stated, but it seems likely that they were requested to do so as part of
the voluntary interruption efforts. No interruption of service was seen.

In a conversation with an MFS engineer today I mentioned the problems
in the Bay area.  He previously worked for SNET (Southern New
England Telephone, now part of SBC) for many years and said it was
standard practice for them to disconnect COs from the grid and run
off generator power for hours or even a day or two during the
summer season.

I was under the impression that these power shortages were the
result of less over-engineering on the part of power companies due
to deregulation but maybe this isn't such a new situation after all?





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