Sunday, January 04, 2009
Senate to hold informational briefing on power outage
by Larry Geller
I was invited to a press conference today at the State Capitol, but didn’t expect to be introduced. I think it was my concern as an advocate for senior citizens, that triggered that. I have spoken about the problems of elderly people trapped by the power failure on upper levels of a condo, unable to get downstairs. Maybe they have special needs for electricity, too. Do electric beds in care homes have a way to unfold without power?
While speaking with reporters I heard that folks were also trapped downstairs. Shoulda thought of that. Sure, if you’re not home, and home is 23 stories up, there could be a problem if the elevators are not running. It would be a problem for anyone, not just older folks.
So I went as a blogger and ended up towards the front end of the TV cameras. Also, my Tablet PC was misbehaving, couldn’t blog it from there.
So the Advertiser beat me to the breaking news: Senators Gabbard and Baker will convene a hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009, at 2 p.m. in room 229 of the State Capitol.
Sen. Gabbard, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and the Environment, said that business can provide briefings, and that the public may ask questions after. I suppose if you want to get on the official program, try calling them at 586-6830. His office manager is Rock Riggs. Sen. Roz Baker is chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection.
At the press conference a businessman spoke about his losses during the power failure. He makes ice cream, and not only lost all his sales that evening, but if the product melts in his freezer he can’t sell it. He said that he does re-freeze it and then gives it away.
Peter Rosegg spoke to the press for HECO. It sounded like he’s closer to admitting that lightning was the cause of the outage.
My feeling is that we can (and need to) do better. On the Mainland, there are places where lightning hits are far more common. Maybe it’s not possible to compare an isolated power system to a larger grid with multiple energy sources, but that’s what someone ought to try. When lighting hits or strikes near a power line in the other 49 states, are hundreds of thousands of businesses and home thrown into darkness for hours, or does their system ride through the hit?
And what about recovery? What about those mysterious “pockets” of powerlessness that have to be nurtured back on-line? Smart grids communicate electronically. One newspaper story said that HECO showed up at Obama’s place at 7 a.m. with a generator, but his power was already back on. How embarrassing that must have been:
When the generator and employees from the Hawaiian Electric Company arrived at 7 a.m., the power to Mr. Obama’s compound had already been restored for about an hour. [New York Times, In Hawaii, No Power to the People but …, 12/27/2008]
How come they still went to knock on his door? Shouldn’t someone have tried calling the crew’s cell-phone, if they had no radio, and said, “hey, nevermind, the juice is flowing already.”
If we are going to have a bright alternative energy future, we can’t do it if our electric power infrastructure is something out of the dark ages (sorry for that).
The high cost of gas this past year has seriously destroyed every budget from the average family to the largest of municipalities.The average family went broke at the pump alone, then added to the misery the higher cost of manufacturing and shipping was passed on to us at the checkout for every consumer product. School districts went broke keeping the busses on the road.One police dept in my area required officers to park their car for 15 minutes of every hour just to conserve .Lower prices are not here to stay.OPEC just announced another production cut.With all these bailouts in the billions why doesn't our nation see the need to bail us out of our dependence on foreign oil? I just read a really interesting new book called The Manhattan Project of 2009 Energy Independence Now by Jeff Wilson.I never realized it would only cost the equivalent of 60 cents per gallon to charge and drive an electric car. Also,The electricity to charge the car could come from solar or wind generated electricity. If all gasoline cars, trucks, and suv's instead had plug-in electric drive trains, the amount of electricity needed to replace gasoline is about equal to the estimated wind energy potential of the state of North Dakota.What powerful resources we have been neglected. The last economic stimulus package cost 168 BILLION and did absolutely nothing to stimulate our economy or create jobs.
Bail America out of its dependence on foreign oil. Wouldn't that make more sense?