North American Network Operators Group

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RE: California electric power on the ragged edge

  • From: Sean Donelan
  • Date: Thu Aug 03 20:53:23 2000

On Thu, 03 August 2000, Karyn Ulriksen wrote:
> It appears that SCE has been seriously degrading voltage in an attempt to
> keep most of us in SoCal happy, but some of the datacenters have already
> leaned into generator power due to low voltage (10% down).  It ain't pretty.
> There was some brown outs occuring in the San Fernando Valley that I noticed
> weren't highly publicized.

I wonder if CAISO is smart-enough to do this on purpose.  If you drop
the voltage 15% for 5 seconds you could coerce several datacenters off
the grid onto backup generators.  Its possible CAISO could free up
several megawatts of power for 30 minutes or so, depending on the size
of the datacenters in the area.  But most people wouldn't notice the
brief brownout, and I've noticed utilities don't seem to track events
less than 5 seconds in length.

It would be nicer if they called and asked.