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Ted Koppel on Diane Rehm: Cyberattack of US power grid

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by AudubonB, Nov 16, 2015.

  1. AudubonB

    AudubonB Mild-mannered Moderator Lord Vetinari*

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    #1 AudubonB, Nov 16, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
    Am listening presently (0900 Mon 16 Nov) to Ted Koppel expounding on his book Lights Out on the Diane Rehm show; his thesis is that the internet will at some point successfully be used to bring down the US power grid which is, he correctly says, a lot more interconnected than many believe. Of his many points, he strongly believes DC has ignored this, mostly because of its overcomplexity.
    He claims there are three grids in the US: East, West and Texas. Not exactly correct but close enough.

    This is a perfect case for the desirability - necessity - for Powerwalls and their kin.

    There is an amusing irony here. Because our home in Alaska is infinitely (>80 miles) far from any power grid, we are about as fully self-independent as any fully-functioning household in, well, the world. Not only our own solar-plus-diesel-backup generation, but a 110kWh battery bank; many freezers with between months and years of food; our own water system, and so forth. So for 99.99% of the time, we live a life that is 'inferior' to what most consider normal - but not by much (umm - lousy internet connection aside...). The 0.01% of the time is when we become the envy of all others.
     
  2. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

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    ...and you probably have some guns to back it up when the envious come to steal it - or zombies... always the zombies... :)

    I have nearly the same, although I'd have to re-wire things to make the solar supplement the generator (my solar PV systems will disconnect when there is grid failure). It'll just take a 10' segment of the #6 I have lying around, along with 3 giant wire nuts, to do that. As it turns out, my biggest problem will be getting an LP gas refill when I burn through the 500 gallons held in reserve.
     
  3. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    Even though I'm not in a similar remote location, I have been working towards similar independence. The Powerwall will be the last piece, really.

    Years ago, a client (major pharma) put me on their Pandemic Response team (was when bird flu warnings were plentiful). I really was hit hard by how quickly our entire infrastructure could go down during a pandemic. It's not just the people around you that are sick. It's the people who maintain the grid, truckers who bring in food, and so on. Ever since, I'e been focused on 'how long could I manage on my own'. Right now, it's months, but it would be really nice to have my solar powering the basics in the evening - I'll feel better with a Powerwall (or 2) in place.

    People should be prepared. There are all sorts of reasons that we could lose that nice warm & safe cocoon of services that isolates us from taking care of ourselves.

    Living in LA at the time that I first really started thinking about how fragile the grid truly is & making basic preparations - had an acquaintance say 'well, if the big quake happens or pandemic flu strikes, I'm just heading over to your place.' Ummm, no. I am not your backup plan. Unless you're family or a really close friend.
     
  4. AudubonB

    AudubonB Mild-mannered Moderator Lord Vetinari*

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    You also have bees, Bonnie, a great source of fine food....I haven't been contributing to the beekeeping thread because our own experience with honeybees was tragic.

    For them, at any rate.

    Our nectar+pollen window is just too short at our latitude + elevation for them to be able to survive. We do have a healthy bumblebee population, which is both comforting and poignant for us - but can't corral those fellas into a hive to make a communal comb.

    How's that for hijacking my own thread....

    On topic: the cascading collapse of a multi-linked electric grid turns its greatest asset into its greatest liability. As discussed on the show, it is one thing for a multi-state grid to go down for several hours - say, up to even a week - because of a natural disaster. Splice back the wires or replace the blown transformer station, etc., and you're back up and running. Keppel posits, however, that a nefarious downing - sabotaging code - would be far more long-lasting and leading to an apocalyptic aftermath.

    To the extent that is the case, and I am not qualified to assess that, is the extent to which the micro-dividing of grids into minuscule clusters - city-->town--->neighborhood--->block, with battery storage assisting similar local production (PV, etc), is what we should be aiming for. THAT is National Defense. And orders of magnitude more effective...and cost-effective....than what a certain segment of our society thinks are appropriate ways to spend for our nation's security. Will try to keep this thread from turning political, however.
     
  5. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

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    That's how I see this eventually playing out... the neighborhood / micro-grid approach. And Tesla's giant PowerBuilding capabilities can help there too...
     
  6. adiggs

    adiggs Active Member

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    This sort of energy and food independence and sustainability are topics that I also find deeply fascinating. I'm a long ways away from something like energy independence, but I can imagine 10-20 years from now using something like Tesla's 100 kwh power pack to create a micro-grid for my homestead. Many challenges there, but the primary challenge is that I don't have the technical skills to build a system the way wk057 has - it'll need to be awfully close to plug and play before I'll be able to adopt.

    In the meantime, grid tied solar is a nice start. And a flock of backyard chickens that has kept us from buying eggs for 2 or 3 months now, and looks like will generate a surplus next summer. These are a good start (and if you don't have your own flock of chickens running around - you need one!)
     
  7. AudubonB

    AudubonB Mild-mannered Moderator Lord Vetinari*

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    ...who'd a-thunk that a Tesla Forum, of all places, would become a hotbed of 'prepper'-dom..... :cool:
     
  8. lolachampcar

    lolachampcar Active Member

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    #8 lolachampcar, Nov 16, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
    Rant to come.......

    and it is things like this that really really piss me off about utilities.

    In my previous life, we sold hardware to utilities throughout the world but mostly in the US. It was shortly after de-regulation and they needed to pull themselves out of the dark ages to compete. A few brought in highly capable upper management to navigate the transition but most farmed it out to the Anderson Consultings of this world. When the transition was complete, the competent management retired and the consulting contracts expired. It was a return to business as usual.

    The rant comes from the absolute stupidity the utilities are demonstrating when it comes to the future. Solar energy is a very good example.

    It seems obvious to me, but my local utility, Florida Power and Light, is missing a huge opportunity with solar. This is what I suggested-
    FPL should contract with Canadian Solar or similar company for most if not all of their production.
    Use existing crews to design racking and installation systems as well as pushing the state for a unified permit process that all municipalities must accept.
    Contract with existing customers for roof space for PV. Do this on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis so you can develop islands of sustainable capability.
    Add fixed storage on a neighborhood basis such that each island becomes 24 or 48 hour sustainable.
    Use the reduced grid loading to improve grid performance while reducing grid maintenance costs.

    Through the above, transition from point to distributed production and be relevant in twenty years.

    The suggestions fell on deaf ears as the competence needed to understand such concepts retired long ago. Unlike deregulation, there is no date certain for transition to motivate boards. They need to figure it out for themselves and seem to be incapable of doing so.

    end of rant
     
  9. AudubonB

    AudubonB Mild-mannered Moderator Lord Vetinari*

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    Does Florida's regulatory board have the kind of teeth required to propel FPL &c to action? Does the state executive or legislature have the ability to sway the regulatory board one way or another?

    In Alaska, the Regulatory Commission appears to be peopled by seat-warmers. In Arizona, there is a battle royal occurring between solar and the two big power providers outside of Tucson: APS and the Solar Citys of the world on the one hand, and between non-regulated Salt River Project and Solar City et al. on the other. No sense that either leg. or exec. has any interest in getting involved, but it remains astonishing that SRP is exempt from regulatory oversight.
     

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