Sunday, August 12, 2007

Power Outages. What, Me Worry?

Last Thursday it was so hot. How hot was it? It was so hot that my daughter's soccer practice was cancelled at 5:30 for fear of the heat, and I have heard from parents with children in school that the kids are not allowed to go outside for P.E. All of the children are relegated to the gym.

The temperatures seem to be maintaining their triple digit streak, and there has yet to be a sign of it letting up in the forecast.

With it being so hot, and everyone cranking up the A/C, it was reassuring when Huntsville Utilities informed customers that "there's no need to conserve energy... despite the summer-time peak" and usage that "tops the charts". (link)


I was starting to suspect that our local power infrastructure would be susceptible to the same failings of similar power companies in similar heat conditions. Within the past week outages attributed to the heat have occurred in:
... Arkansas,
... Missouri,
... Texas,
... Virginia,
... West Virginia
... Georgia, ..and again in Georgia.

I suppose we are lucky to have our power provided by the far superior and indestructible Huntsville Utilities, but my excitement was short-lived. Yesterday I received a call from my sister in Huntsville.

Uh-oh, her power is out along with a large portion of the city.

Even on University Drive, a commercial shopping area, the power outage has forced retail businesses to close, and on a Saturday no less!

Is this an early indication that global warming is beginning to rear its ugly head and show us what kind of discomfort and inconvenience we have to look forward to?

Could it be that our energy resources are not capable of exponential growth and as our population continues to grow, they will only be more scarce and hard to maintain?

Are our power infrastructures aged and more susceptible to the strains of demand than our utility providers would like us to believe?

We need to answer all of these questions, and hopefully this power outage will be the catalyst for the consideration.

Lets see...

Today the Huntsville Times reported on yesterday's power outage:
About 30,000 customers of Huntsville Utilities sweated out a power failure in 99-degree heat Saturday afternoon when a switch failed.

At 4:30 p.m., a delivery point that disperses electricity from the Tennessee Valley Authority power grid shut down, the utility said. Crews restored power to about 23,000 customers by 5:18p.m.

Crew completed restoring power to 7,500 customers in the Nick Davis and Old Railroad Bed area by 6:35 p.m.

The heat, weather conditions and the heavy load of electricity usage this past week were not responsible for the failure, the utility said. (link)

Oh, silly me! I got myself all worked-up and afraid for nothing!

My local, friendly utility company, Huntsville Utilities, said the weather and heavy usage was not a factor, and I know they only have my well-being and comfort at heart!

I am sure they would tell us of any problem they might be having, even if the public response would be negative and against their best interest. Even if the reality of a situation were to reveal evidence of global climate change or the inadequacy of their own resources, they would surely tell us!

Wouldn't they?

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