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.
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?