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  1. #121
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    Default Re: Revisiting the PTO-generator question

    As the "My God. don't let the public see that" poster from the 1991 Ice storm says,
    Electricity, It's too good to waste,
    LET EM FREEZE IN THE DARK!!
    REDDY KILLOWATT
    There seems to be a vast public misconception that electric power is a civil right guarnateed by the Constitution. It Isn't.
    I've been booed in PSC hearings because I said flat out that the public diesn't give a flat dam about helping the company with a post storm restoration. I've yet to see a subdivision since the 80s that didn't have underground lines, as well as street lights on poles along the road. Older subdivisions have lines strung thru the back yard, so people can install fences and grow shrubbery, obviously those pole lines were installed to be trellises. God himself doesn't dare help a utility that is trying to trim branches under it's pole line when it involves a housewife's decorative planting. Add in that I have yet to see a line truck or bucket truck that is set up to drag race, but obviously, the public can't be expected to stay off the roads when there is storm damage to be rubbernecked. In 91, I did a little informal survey, and concluded around 97% of the public couldn't be inconvenienced in getting to their destination by letting any utility truck into traffic. By the 11th day of restoration a new game had been invented by bored travelers called "push the cone line back". I never did manage to get a copy of the rules for the game though.
    I'll guarantee 2 things, there will be more power outages in the future, and the length of time you'll be without utility power will be longer. As the Superutilitys buy up local companys, eliminate jobs, and centralize dispach, things will get worse for the customer. Any expectation it will get better is insane.
    In the meantime, call Eylander Electric in Everett Washington, at 1-800-932-8986, and tell them you want information on their combined service panel & manual transfer panel that they just advertised in EC&M. They'll be happy to know their advertising worked, and might even set up a web page.

  2. #122
    Platinum Member Trev's Avatar
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    Default Re: Revisiting the PTO-generator question

    Hi Franz,

    I'm trying to follow you here, and if I'm on target you're angry because the public seems to expect miracles from the power companies but refuses to get off their lazy butts and do anything to help the utilities out during emergencies? If anything, the public goes out of its' way to make things more difficult, and then whines and moans about the inconvenience?

    I'm not arguing with you.. I just want to make sure we're on the same page here.

    Along the same lines, I might add that I'm always astounded by people who won't even get out of the way of ambulances, fire trucks, and so on. Volunteer firemen will be trying to get to the station, with their blue lights flashing, and people just yawn and don't even bother to move over to let them by.

    Is this kind of what you're saying? Is there an adversarial feeling among the utilities folks toward the public? I've really never given it much thought, to be honest.. the power goes out, we wait a while, it comes back on.. life is back to normal. I've never even seen, in any detail, what it is that the utility folks have to do, or how they do it, when a major outage hits. I can imagine them somewhat frantically rushing around, trying to isolate problems, get replacement parts, trying not to get killed in the process by touching something they shouldn't have, and so on. As I think about this, my days managing large computer networks involved some of that sort of thing, only without the element of possible electrocution. A few thousand users who can't connect to the system, whining about when we'll get it back up, and feeling a sense of entitlement and indignation rather than any empathy or support. Multiply that by a few orders of magnitude, and that's probably what the utility people are feeling during an outage.

    Am I close?

    Bob

  3. #123

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    Houston, TX.
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    2001 TN65, 1951 8N Ford

    Default Re: Revisiting the PTO-generator question

    I remember reading something about meters that would run backwards if you fed power to them. This was years ago, I believe it was in the context of selling power back to the power company if you had a windmill or solar collectors and produced more power than you consumed at times. Do any of you guys know anything about this? Did it get off the ground? If this is so, what would the effect be on linemen?

  4. #124

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
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    1952 Ferguson TEA20, 1951 Ferguson TEA20

    Default Re: Revisiting the PTO-generator question

    Franz,
    I think you're right that most of the public doesn't give a second thought to the power arriving at their doors.
    I don't know where the '91 ice storm was that you referred to but here in Ontario we had a rather sizable one in '98 that you may have heard about. I can tell you for a certainty that the guys who got power back to our homes were very highly regarded in this area. We "imported" a lot of hydro workers from considerable distances and people did go out and take them coffee and express their thanks.
    "You don't know what you got till it's gone" right? People take everything for granted - it's like that for the phone too.
    But consider how our lives have been set up over the last hundred years or so. We can't open a can of soup without electricity anymore. People are just about helpless without it, and that keeps a whole lot of folks employed.
    Being without electricity for a couple of weeks in the cold sure changed my point of view. I think about it every day when I flick on a light instead of lighting a lamp with a match, or heat up the oatmeal on the cookstove instead of with electricity. Maybe a dose of doing without would help straighten out the attitude you say you have seen.
    But, the people contributing to this discussion may be unusual in that they are already thinking about what it's like to be without - indeed Bob who started it set out with the notion to help his neighbours in need. I guess I'm just saying don't paint us all with the same brush; this discussion board is full of people trying to help each other out. (I wish that wasn't unusual.)
    On re-reading this I am not satisfied that I expressed myself well enough so just in case - I am trying to add to the discussion rather than be critical, and I do appreciate and thank you for your input.
    Jim

  5. #125
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    Default Re: Revisiting the PTO-generator question

    Jim, I remember the coverage of your little 98 event down here. The 91 storm I'm referring to beat he!! out of the Rochester area south to the Pa border. One joke among old linemen is you can tell when the restoration is near done because the resturant that couldn't get you seated and fed fast enough now don't even want you in the place.
    Back in 91, we still had a good company here, RG&E, although they had a real fool at the top who loved to make STUPID statements in front of TV cameras. This area must have something in the water that encourages fools cause we have plenty of them. I can't tell you the number of houses I saw with big motorhomes parked in the driveway with gensets, where folks were shivering in the house with a flooded basement cause "the motorhome is winterized". Also people too dumb to pull the bilge pump & battery out of their boat who turned their basement into a swimming pool, and got royally pi$$ed at me cause I refused to reconnect the power.
    My neighbors who called me a fool for owning gensets (11 back then) were more than willing to "borrow" sets from me, and I never knew how many "friends" I had till the ones who owned gensets they never maintained showed up for me to fix their set, for free naturally, cause the motor ran but nothing came out of the plug. After the storm was over, I got 2 sets back busted, and had to hunt down one of my portable pumps for 6 months. Needless to say, my equipment doesn't get loaned out any more.
    Another interesting sidenote, at the PSC hearing after the event, half of the people complaining were mad because they had power and no CABLE. Imagine having to live under such a stressful situation.
    I'm not conversant with the Canadian Hydro situation, but down here, all the utilitys are merging into giant companys. Last winter I went 4 days without power due to the NEW IMPROVED system. Within an hour, the Inspector verified I was without power due to limbs falling on an improperly located line. That was an unnecessary waste of manpower, I had given the operator pole #s and condition. 3 hours later, the contracted tree crew had sort of removed the limbs, and called their job in as completed. At that point, the monkeywrench landed in the system cause another contracted employee pushed the wrong button on the computer. Since my power was "restored" the system wouldn't allow any additional job to exist at my location for the duration of the event.
    The sad part was I still know a lot of the linemen, and when I finally offered to chain my Blazer to an inspector's truck and hold the truck hostage, I got a phone number that connected me to the person who could make things move. Within 35 minutes I had a knuckle bucket and 5 other trucks here.
    Computer driven systems are great, but there has to be human override capability. Computers crash, even when they are programmed right, and the people answering the phone at the electric company should NOT be answering service employees. We now get electric from a company run by MBAs who don't know a line truck from a pole, and soon they will be dispaching from Virginia. It's gonna get interesting.

  6. #126
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    NH TC33D

    Default Re: Revisiting the PTO-generator question

    <font color=blue>I remember reading something about meters that would run backwards if you fed power to them. This was years ago, I believe it was in the context of selling power back to the power company if you had a windmill or solar collectors and produced more power than you consumed at times. Do any of you guys know anything about this? Did it get off the ground? If this is so, what would the effect be on linemen?</font color=blue>

    It's known as "Net Metering" (since you only pay for the net amount of electricity you use... all of the time it runs forwards, minus the time it runs backwards). Some states have laws requiring utilities to allow this type of hookup. It is often used to put wind and solar power "on-the-grid". It allows people with this type of system to avoid installing a big battery bank to save power for those clooudy or windless days.

    To be approved for Net Metering, the device they are using (usually an inverter) must be able to put it's power in sync with the grid power (that is, the sine waves "match up"). It also must automatically disconnect the power generation source from the grid within a specified amount of time (a few milliseconds?) from when the grid power goes down. This prevents backfeeding the grid and causing a danger to those working on the grid. The systems for this automatic disconnect have become so reliable that many places do not require a manual disconnect switch near the meter (i.e. accessible to linemen).

    We were planning on installing a wind turbine with just this type of hookup, if Vermont could ever manage to pass the tax credit they were considering for renewable energy. Unfortunately, the last bill attempting this was torpedoed by IBM (a major employer in VT who did not like some of the other completely voluntary provisions in the bill because it "might make them look bad if they chose not to participate".)

    John Mc

  7. #127
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    Default Re: Revisiting the PTO-generator question

    NY has had net metering and cogen laws in place for at least 10 years, and the utilitys are doing all they can to either eliminate it, or make it near impossible for people.
    RG&amp;E was around 8 cents/kwh a few years ago when they screwed up and admitted their production cost was around 2.5 cents delivered to the customer, and they didn't want to be paying cogen or wind producers the 6 cents tha law mandates. Gee, whoda thunk the big utility was screwing customers. Both RG&amp;E and NyMo have managed to bankrupt every alternate generator in their territory thru litigation.
    Now NY has an open supply law, where we are allowed to choose our electric and gas supplier. Amazingly, RG&amp;E's unregulated division Energetics is offering to sell me electricity for about 5 cents a kwh. Of course, I'll still have to pay a delivery charge for every kwh, or pick it up in a bucket at the generating plant. It took 2 days for them to answer how much the delivery charge would be, and when they did, my cost per kwh would have been 1 cent higher than I'm currently paying RG&amp;E.
    For some reason, I don't trust Big Power any more.

  8. #128
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    South-central Michigan
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    New Holland TC40D

    Default Re: Revisiting the PTO-generator question

    I have to agree with you on this one Ed. I still do not see the need for switching the neutral. Yes it might be better to do, but still is not necessary.

    Secondly, the "equipment ground", from the generator ground lug does not need to be sized the same as the conductors as others have suggested. The ground lead in the 4-conductor cable may not need to be either, but that will depend on what the code says. Good to see at least you are consulting the code.

  9. #129
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    Default Re: Revisiting the PTO-generator question

    <font color=blue>NY has had net metering and cogen laws in place for at least 10 years, and the utilitys are doing all they can to either eliminate it, or make it near impossible for people.</font color=blue>

    There are a lot of horror stories around from just about every state that has Net Metering laws. Some of the power companies have gotten nailed for it, but it still can be a pain to get hooked up. I'm lucky, Vermont power co's have a reputation for being relatively cooperative.

    If anyone is interested in Net Metering, I suggest looking at Home Power magazine. A lot of good info on renewable energy, and a lot of it is on their web site: <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.HomePower.com>http://www.HomePower.com</A>

    John Mc

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