Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Poll Analyses
Share on Facebook 31 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Exclusive to OpEdNews:
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 11/2/19

How to end PG&E-induced forest fires

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages) (View How Many People Read This)   19 comments
Author 512948
Message Lew Weingarth

After hearing all the speculation about and finger pointing directed at PG&E, I need to comment. Most people don't know much about power, but it's been a major focus of mine for years.

Since nobody likes wordy diatribes, let me present facts in bullet form.

· There are calls to make PG&E public owned

· At one time, almost all electric utilities were public owned. Why did they change?

· Many reasons, the one I supported was if we privatized electricity, it would spell the end of nuclear power, with was being pushed by regulated utilities with vague promises "we can deal with the waste products, somehow, some day".

· It's ridiculous to treat radioactive waste that has a lifetime MANY TIMES RECORDED HISTORY like used Kleenex. I'm not necessarily opposed to nuclear power, but figuring out how to make the wastes PERMANENTLY safe, and THOROUGH testing of the process, should be required BEFORE any discussion of building it.

· Regulated utilities make profits, but are regulated, so profit takes the form of adding some percentage on top of operating cost.

· Nuclear power was irresistible to regulated utilities because in some cases it allowed them to TRIPLE the cost of electricity, and their profits.

· Privatization changes the incentives. Rather than have to increase cost to increase profits, the incentive becomes efficiency. Unfortunately, bean counters like most CEOs think this means DECREASING cost. As any maintenance person knows, maintenance doesn't cost money; it saves money. Do you change oil in your car to get rid of excess cash? Apparently, CEOs do, but that's another discussion.

· Line maintenance is a cost a regulated utility can simply pass along to customers, but they can also add a profit on top, so the incentive is good maintenance.

· Private utilities can deduct maintenance, but at best that's 25% off the top, and very few utilities pay taxes anyway, so it's not worth anything. To CEOs who don't know maintenance INCREASES profits, it's a cost to eliminate. Remember, cost-cutting often sends 50% to the CEO bonus THAT YEAR.

· Today, I read an article by a spokesperson for private utilities. He said they are shedding nuclear and coal as fast as they can and switching 100% to renewables, not to be clean, not to be green; to INCREASE PROFITS.

· What is the REAL problem with PG&E? Simple, a power line fails and starts a forest fire. Remember, the results are not the cause. Now that we know the problem, let's look at solutions.

· PG&E apparently has ignored maintenance for years, and is now blacking out areas to cut limbs away from lines. That's fine, and needed, but stone age and reduces, but doesn't solve, the real problem - fires starting when a line fails.

· Today, we have protective relays that can monitor the electrical waveform on lines IN USE, detect when a tree branch nears, and shut down before contact. The idea is remove power before enough power flows into something that can burn to ignite it. This isn't fantasy; protective relays can monitor all waveforms a million times a second. Forget waiting for an overload to heat up some breaker; we can open the breaker as the wind blows the power line close enough that the tree limb just starts to distort the waveform, and have it completely dead by the time they touch. In most cases, we can detect and open the breaker in 1/5th of a second.

· Today, we have high-speed contactors that can open and isolate power on the line BEFORE ENOUGH ENERGY FLOWS TO START A FIRE. OK, a line falling in a refinery can spark, but that's why refineries don't have overhead lines.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

 

Must Read 2   News 1   Valuable 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Lew Weingarth Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering with MBA training in international business. 35 years working all over the world. Expert in power plants, energy, oil. I have been to about 150 countries total, spent at least a week in about 110, (more...)
 

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Fear the terrified 20%, definitely fear the terrified 20%

How to end PG&E-induced forest fires

What if we applied NRA logic to the 4th Amendment?

Opium, politics, and war - do they overlap? Read and decide

Racism's Worst Enemy is Education

Cliff's Notes version of how our political parties have served America during the COVID-19 crisis

To View Comments or Join the Conversation: