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Re: California electric power on the ragged edge

  • From: Greg A. Woods
  • Date: Fri Aug 04 11:00:43 2000

[ On Friday, August 4, 2000 at 12:19:05 (+0100), Alex Bligh wrote: ]
> Subject: Re: California electric power on the ragged edge 
> FWIW this is the justification many regulators elsewhere (i.e.
> not in the US) gave for what I guess is the power/water/gas
> equivalent of 'local loop unbundling' (I can by my electricity
> from about 10 people here, though they all use the same transmission
> system), and keeping the grid separate from the supply company.

As is the case here in Ontario, Canada (as of this year).  We now get
sales goofs from all kinds of new "energy" companies knocking on our
doors and trying to use scare tactics to get us to sign up with them.

I think we may even have something similar happening with natural gas,
though there the primary supplier (Consumers Gas) is literally well
embedded in most Ontario cities.

When large utilities were all government owned here it didn't make much
difference, but with privitisation all the rage something had to be done
in such a way to allow industry to participate without totally screwing
the consumer.  What I'm as yet unsure of is what this scheme does to
affect the ability of individuals to generate power and sell it to the
grid.  Since here in Ontario it seems the grid will continue to be owned
by the government owned power company, policitcal will can make it
possible.  Of course there's always the possibility of forming a big
enough co-operative amongst microgenerators to represent their cause to
the big bad grid owners.

Interestingly I see in my APC Solutions product magazine that arrived
this morning that California was already 3% undercapacitly in terms of
generation in 1995, and will be 6% under in this year.  In fact the map
printed in there ("source: Computesite", whatever that is) almost all of
the USA, except for the North West, was already under capacity in 1995
and is most certainly well under capacity now (presumably they mean for
peak load periods).  All I can say to you Americans on the list is "Want
to buy a few new Candu reactors?"  :-) The only other realistic solution
I can see is for the *average* person and company to start considering
generating at least some of their own power.

> Larger customers (data centers) can indeed use separate transmission
> arrangements if appropriate. The subway system here does deals
> power deals in London with dig (it self generates too), and
> so do various other slightly unexpected utilities.

Would it make sense for a datacentre in Sunny Calif. to become its own
generating facility and of course to resell its excess power back to the
grid?  Burning diesel to generate electricity is obviously not cost
effective nor is it environmentally friendly when done in any
concentration, but perhaps a sufficiently large bank of solar panels and
some wind power on the roof too, as well as a big enough bank of
batteries would allow someone to buy only cheap power overnight to top
up the batteries while the sun doesn't shine, selling excess generation
capacity back to the grid when the sun shines bright while the wind
blows!  I don't know what the economics of building a battery bank that
big are though, not to mention the zoning regulations on having big sun
and wind collectors might be....

							Greg A. Woods

+1 416 218-0098      VE3TCP      <[email protected]>      <robohack!woods>
Planix, Inc. <[email protected]>; Secrets of the Weird <[email protected]>