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Utility PG&E scapegoating EVs for their aging equipment failures

Discussion in 'North America' started by brucedp, Oct 26, 2011.

  1. brucedp

    brucedp Member

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    EVS use "three households worth of energy" ... 'Get Real'
    PG&E is notorious for shifting blame for their Corp. greed


    OK, so EVs are now so mainstream now that a California Utility uses
    EVs as a scapegoat for them not doing the job they are paid to do.

    This is not going to be the last time a company will use EVs as a
    scapegoat, so I suggest that drivers give their views to the media
    outlets as comments on the first two URLs below and a comment
    on the PUC site as well.

    Included are examples of how PG&E has failed to do its job.
    They take the consumer's money, but do not do what what they told
    the PUC they would do.





    Tuesday evening transformer explosion leaves some San Francisco residents in the dark | abc7news.com
    Transformer explosion leaves some in the dark Oct 26 2011
    ...
    Roughly 275 PG&E customers lost power because of the equipment
    failure, according to a PG&E spokesman. The utility is still
    investigating what caused the problem.

    "Typically these types of failures occur when there's a spike in power
    demand," PG&E spokesman Jason King said this morning.

    That spike in demand, King said, can be caused by the introduction of
    a power-hungry device, such as an electric car, equipment for a home
    office or an indoor grow operation.

    He urged customers to alert PG&E if they plan to use a device that
    needs that much power so that the company can anticipate increases in
    demand.

    An electric car can require as much as three households worth of
    energy, King said, which he said is why PG&E works with electric car
    dealers so that it is notified when customers bring new cars on the
    grid.

    As of this morning, PG&E had not yet identified what caused the
    failure.

    King did not have information about the age of the equipment or
    frequency of such failures.

    "They're not a common occurrence, but they do happen," he said ...


    PG&E Still Trying To Figure Out What Caused Fireball-Shooting Transformer Explosion: News: SFAppeal
    PG&E Still Trying To Figure Out What Caused Fireball-Shooting
    Transformer Explosion by Patricia Decker Oct 26 2011
    ...
    That spike in demand, King said, can be caused by the introduction of
    a power-hungry device, such as an electric car ...

    An electric car can require as much as three households worth of
    energy, King said, which he said is why PG&E works with electric car
    dealers so that it is notified when customers bring new cars on the
    grid.


    -

    http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_19159663
    Inspection prompts PG&E to examine overhead electrical lines
    By Steve Johnson 10/21/2011
    PG&E plans to reinspect 16,400 overhead transformers and other
    electrical equipment ... after an internal investigation found more
    than two dozen instances where its inspectors had falsely claimed to
    have checked underground electrical gear, a company spokesman said ...


    TURN Consumer AdvocatesOutages identify PG&E's limits after heat wave caused 1.2 million customers to lose power, experts assess utility's vulnerabilities
    Outages identify PG&E's limits ... PG&E's distribution-system worries
    extend beyond its transformers ... More than half of the company's
    substations are at least 50 years old ...


    PG&E knew of many leaks in San Bruno pipeline
    PG&E knew of many leaks in San Bruno pipeline

    -


    California Public Utilities Commission (PUC)
    Contact Us














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  2. Tommy

    Tommy Member

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    Good luck PG&E getting some "farmer" to fess up to their indoor grow operation.
     
  3. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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    Who's setting up ENIAC in their home office?
     
  4. rolosrevenge

    rolosrevenge Dr. EVS

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    Transformers can also blow because of incorrect protection and an animal causing a ground fault, or vandalism, or that it was just an old transformer, or electromagnetic resonance with the 5th harmonic from something with poor power quality, etc... For them to try and blame just a power spike on EVs (which the don't even know if they are there, and a single EV can't blow a 275 house transformer) is very irresponsible in my opinion.
     
  5. richkae

    richkae VIN587

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    You dont need to set up ENIAC to use a bunch of juice. A small server with a two or three disk arrays can easily draw 1kW. You leave that on all day and you've used 24 kWhrs. A handful of desktop machines could easily exceed that.
    My Roadster uses an average of 10 kWhr per day because I average 40 miles. If I ran an office in my house it would consume more than 2x or 3x than the car.
     
  6. strider

    strider Active Member

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    Maybe John Petersen's a consultant?
     
  7. cinergi

    cinergi Active Member

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    So, running my electric clothes dryer and electric oven & range and A/C at the same time isn't bad but drawing 40A @ 240V for charging is? "Go back to school"
     
  8. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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    The issue here is power, not energy. You can draw 1kW just by using a blow dryer.
     
  9. slcasner

    slcasner Member

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    Actually, for a transformer failure the issue may be energy, not power. The problem for the transformer is that heat builds up according to the total energy pulled through it in a given time period. If the transformer does not have enough idle time to dissipate the heat, it will cook and fail. How do I know? I've participated in two separate Roadster gatherings that resulted in cooked transformers having to be replaced by PG&E.
     
  10. GSP

    GSP Member

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    Peak Power vs. "Energy over time"

    Another way to describe this is that the average power is as important as peak power to determine transformer temperatures and life. It should come down to the power vs time curve, transformer efficiency, and the transformer's ability to dissipate heat.

    Utilities say that EVs can influence the life of the last transformer in the line, due to "energy per day" or average power.

    GSP
     
  11. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    When I applied for PGE's lower tiered rates for charging an EV, they told me they first needed to do a quick check of the system in my area to ensure the aging system could handle a new load (short time, less than a week). I assumed they were going to try to charge me (noooo!) - and pushed back, asking how I could possibly drive up the load, since I'd be charging in off-peak hours. I was told they needed some downtime for equipment repair, to allow equipment to cool, etc -- but IF the system was inadequate, it would just mean that they'd move my area higher on the priority list for upgrading. It didn't impact my rate, etc. The explanation may have been more than a bit simplistic, but the point is they weren't blaming me, they appeared to just want the info for determining where they needed to upgrade.
     
  12. ckessel

    ckessel Active Member

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    That does make some sense. The grid obviously doesn't have equal throughput in all areas. If an area starts getting heavier usage than it's lines are rated to carry, I could see a need for an upgrade. Not terribly different than cable lines to a neighborhood getting overloaded if the number of subscribers jumps up in an area.
     
  13. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Some previous discussion of that here:
    Charging Infrastructure
     
  14. rolosrevenge

    rolosrevenge Dr. EVS

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    This made my day. The company I'm working for is developing smart grid software that would detect such situations and take action before it happened. As a use case to demo the software, I wrote a scenario about a large EV club gathering that overloaded the transformers and how our software and the algorithms would stop it. I swore to them that this actually happens and when I showed them all this comment they were delighted.
     
  15. Lloyd

    Lloyd Active Member

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    What action would they take? Send extra power to prevent voltage from dropping and creating more heat, or prevent charging in some fashion?
     
  16. rolosrevenge

    rolosrevenge Dr. EVS

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    I can't divulge that, it's proprietary for the moment.
     
  17. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    I doubt they send "extra power". Slowing charge rate (or turning off charging for uncontrollable cars) seems more the order of the day.

    By the way, I wonder if EV integrated "smart grid" will include changing pilot signals to slow charging, or more binary on/off only?

    It seems the meter and the EVSE will be the first to be integrated, but the cars themselves probably come next.

    Sometimes there is a bit of a mess when both EVSE and car are trying to be in charge of charging rates and scheduling.
     
  18. rolosrevenge

    rolosrevenge Dr. EVS

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    The first slew of unidirectional V2G papers I wrote for the IEEE transactions as a grad student assumed that there would be pilot signal control, which was largely the V2Green way to do things as well (Dave was most helpful with his advice). I figured it would be most beneficial to change the pilot signal, but now I can see tradeoffs between pilot signal control and binary switching. Interestingly, some of the V2G companies are taking a different approach altogether with communication built to the car. I couldn't tell you what will ultimately win the day and it may be a combination of things.
    As a disclaimer, all of what I said is publicly available knowledge, and doesn't represent what the company I work for is necessarily doing.
     
  19. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Being on the EVproject with a Blink EVSE one wonders how much they are being a "guinea pig" or just subject to flakey hardware.
    EVSEs rebooting during charging, odd error messages, and such. Sometimes I wonder if they are experimenting with remote control over the charging functions.
     
  20. slcasner

    slcasner Member

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    I don't know what action the utility would take, but as an electricity user, I wish there was some way to find out how much power I could safely draw without causing the transformer to overheat. The panel rating is definitely not the answer. I would use that information to manage my charge current selection, or at a gathering, to plan out charging among multiple vehicles.

    In the absence of this information, the strategy I have learned the hard way is to always charge at the lowest level that will get the necessary charge completed in the necessary time.
     

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