WV Blackout 2012 – Didn’t We Just Go Through This?

Here is the second major WV blackout in three years.  AEP and FirstEnergy get rate payer subsidies from FERC for giant interstate transmission projects, while WV politicians and PSC allow the same power companies to run our WV distribution system into the ground.  There really isn’t much more to say.

Remember December 2009?  I do.  Here and here are a couple of posts about it.  Here is a link that will bring up all my blackout posts.

Take a look at this picture of a crumpled FirstEnergy transmission tower in WV —

Do you really think that building more high voltage transmission lines is a good way to increase system reliability?  Early reports are that this collapse is on the high voltage transmission line from the Harrison power station to the Pruntytown substation. The State Journal’s Pam Kasey has tracked down the location of this line between Parkersburg and the Harrison power station near Clarksburg, somewhere near Rt. 50.  Pam has a great discussion of the overall transmission situation here.  This steel lattice tower is on a high voltage interstate transmission line, but there has been extensive damage to smaller 138 kV lines that are the backbone of our state’s transmission/distribution system serving WV customers.

If you want a real laugh, just take a look at this May 2012 report filed by FirstEnergy telling the WV PSC that everything was just hunky dory with their high voltage transmission towers in WV.  In the report, FirstEnergy concluded that their WV companies, Mon Power and Potomac Edison are doing a great job:

Based on the most recent condition, reliability and capacity assessments of the EHV [extra high voltage] Facilities in West Virginia, there are no immediate or short term plans (within the next five years) for upgrading the structures, conductor or hardware on the EHV Facilities in West Virginia. The Companies will continue to implement their inspection and maintenance programs and to participate actively in the RTEP process.

Oops.  I know one tower that is getting some unscheduled “upgrading” right now.  Here are some more pictures of that upgrade process.  Looks like FirstEnergy’s Mon Power and Potomac Edison boys need to “implement their inspection and maintenance programs” a little more thoroughly.

Here is a clear look at what reliability really means.

And this is what reliability looks like.  My freezer and refrigerator hardly blinked when the power went down last Friday.  We have some lights and running water.  I’ll even be doing a laundry tomorrow.  Our battery array is sized to run our critical needs panel for a week, with no sun.  With our recent sunny days, our system can provide power indefinitely.

The 2009 blackout did it for me.  If you live in rural WV, contact a solar system installer and find out what real reliability can be.

When will the next blackout hit WV’s electrical system?  How long will it take for WV leaders to change this situation by encouraging the development of decentralized distributed generation?

5 thoughts on “WV Blackout 2012 – Didn’t We Just Go Through This?

  1. Hey… what do you mean you provided for your own “reliability” needs? Don’t you know you’re supposed to be a hog at FirstEnergy’s trough? Here’s how FirstEnergy recommends us hogs survive when their “reliable” feed corn system is down, “Backup generators can provide an emergency power supply, enabling you to keep important equipment running during a power outage.”

    • I got REAL tired of running all over the place looking for gas for my generator back in 2009. I spent over $100 in gas just to keep my freezer running a few hours a day. That’s all in the past now.

  2. I live on a rural ridge in northern west virginia and we are on our fifth day without power. Every town around us has full power yet all the ridges and rural areas are still out of luck

    • Ms. Frazier,

      If you live on a ridge, you probably have excellent sun exposure. You should think seriously about installing a small solar array that will generate enough electricity to feed a backup battery system when grid power fails. These blackouts are not going away. We can expect more to come, and more frequently. Stop thinking like a consumer and start producing your own power. Then it won’t matter if your neighbors have power or not.

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