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Third blackout in Victoria — blame the possums

Australia has a gold plated network, which is why our electricity is so expensive.

However we also have gold plated possums:

Distributor blames possums for third power outage

More than 20,000 homes in Melbourne’s southeast had another night without electricity on Sunday, the third major power outage for Victoria in three weeks.

An Ausnet spokeswoman confirmed 23,915 customers were left without power for about 90 minutes from 11.42pm in suburbs including Bayswater, Boronia, Ferntree Gully, Heathmont, Knoxfield, Scoresby and Wan­tirna. She said the power cut was the result of a fault at the Boronia substation, which could have been triggered by leaves or branches or other plant debris flying into overhead power lines, or animals, birds or possums on the line.

Incredibly bad luck.

Or not. They don’t really know why this blackout occurred yet.

Workers are still investigating the cause of the fault…

The Victorian government blames the privately owned retailers, and has ordered them to pay compensation. This is the funny asymmetry with electricity pricing – it costs less to generate it, than to not generate it. A 3 – 20 hour blackout might “earn” $80 in compensation. Add another layer on the electricity bill for everyone else, says commenter PR.

But seriously, maybe it was a possum.

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Third blackout in Victoria -- blame the possums, 8.9 out of 10 based on 74 ratings

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128 comments to Third blackout in Victoria — blame the possums

  • #
    ivan

    Maybe if the government stopped charging the base load coal fired power stations for producing base load electricity and mandated that power from coal fired generators had to be bought first they wouldn’t have these problems.

    Doing that wiuld leave the unreliables out in the cold unless they could guarantee supply for a specific time and period – since they can’t dump them and use the extra CO2 to help greening the planet.

    630

    • #
      TedM

      Spot on Ivan.

      150

    • #
      ColA

      Possums? POSSUMS!! Bloody Dr Tim Flim Flammery!!

      110

      • #
        Extreme Hiatus

        I’m all for cursing Permadrought Tim on any occasion but not so quick to blame possums – presumably one possum. But it makes more sense than “leaves or branches or other plant debris flying.” Flying leaves? If that can cause a blackout just about anything can, which doesn’t say much for the quality of their system or their excuse for this.

        I don’t care what they say. I blame coal and social injustice.

        30

    • #
      Bitter&twisted

      I wouldn’t underestimate leaves.
      Here in the UK “leaves on the line” regularly stop trains.
      Yes it is the companies BS for running late, just like this power outage.

      40

    • #
      observa

      All the authorities have to do to fix the train wreck we’re headed for with these unreliables is restore the level playing field for all generators. Namely they can only tender electrons they can reasonably guarantee (ie short of unforeseen mechanical breakdown) 24/7 all year round. The impact on the current unreliables engaging in what is a pure form of dumping would be obvious. Either invest in storage to increase their average tender and/or partner with thermal and pay them their just insurance premiums they’re bludging on now.

      50

  • #
    Roy Hogue

    They always have a rationalization handy don’t they? I have a high voltage power line running along the rear property line and judging by the insulators it could be anything from 30 to 100 kV, maybe more. Could leaves blowing against the wires cause any problem? I doubt it. I’ve seen a neighbor’s tree branch blowing against the wires in the wind and It was sizzling every time that happened and nothing went down. Could a possum do it? I think fried possum would be the only result.

    The thing that has taken down the power is a car taking out a pole where the line runs very close to a heavily traveled street. Another thing that has done it is a major failure at a substation somewhere. But the same argument applies there as what I said above. You’d have fried possum and the power still up and running.

    Electricity behaves the same way everywhere. The laws of physics are immutable. And the possum may climb bu they don’t go high, just enough to let them hang by their tails. ;-)

    230

    • #
      D. J. Hawkins

      I frequent an electrical contractor’s forum and on a regular basis members will post the latest picture of a fried squirrel or snake that brought down a medium voltage transformer in a substation. If the critter goes phase to ground it may be only crispy critter, but if it goes phase to phase that’s going to be a transformer trip.

      240

      • #
        Roy Hogue

        D. J.,

        I think the 3 wires are separated by far too much distance for a possum to get across phase to phase as you describe. Locally the only place that could happen that I can see is at the input to a transformer and they are insulated for about a zillion volts by the looks of the insulators. The problem has been large birds trying to land on the transformer case and getting fried. But still, I’m not aware of an outage caused by that. I saw it happen once years ago before all the insulation was added, a horrible sight to watch but it was the transformer serving my house and the power stayed up.

        Maybe if a possum tried to crawl across the crossarm from one side to the other it might be zapped.

        I shouldn’t try to speak too authoritatively since were talking about Australia and I live in California. But a power line would be designed similarly anywhere. They wouldn’t want to spend money on crossarms longer than necessary to maintain a safe separation of the 3 wires. It wold be similar for substations. I suspect but have nothing but my own observation to substantiate it — I think the separation I see everywhere is because it allows those guys who go up there to work to have enough room to avoid trouble — and if that’s not it then I don’t know.

        I’ll certainly believe real world experience as you describe so there must be some way it happens.

        151

        • #
          toorightmate

          Roy,
          Victoria is renown for very large possums – and very large snowflakes.

          281

        • #
          yarpos

          Even allowing for toorights VIC phobia, Brushtails can grow to decent sized animals, about a metre long (1/3 tail) and 4-5kg. One cause a small outage in our street a few years ago, his remains got pulled off the top of a transformer.

          70

          • #
            Graeme No.3

            yarpos:
            It is not always fatal. From my files July 2017.
            Around 50,000 residents of Zambia’s Western province were without electricity on Sunday, after a baboon wandered into a power station and fiddled with the equipment. Incredibly, the baboon managed to survive the incident.

            A single monkey managed to start a nationwide power outage in Kenya, According the country’s largest electrical company, the primate cut off power to vast swathes of the country on Tuesday. A monkey climbed on the roof of Gitaru Power Station and dropped onto a transformer, tripping it but somehow this monkey managed to survive its near-death experience.

            A Premier managed to start a statewide power outage in South Australia when it wandered into a power grid and fiddled with the equipment. Unfortunately it survived.

            340

        • #
          Rereke Whakkaro

          If it were a bird, it would have to be an albatross, or a condor. You don’t see many of either in Melbourne. Two lines must be touched at the same time, to let the current flow

          A, possum with a long reach, might do it. But the modern high power distribution systems, that I am familiar with will fry the critter, burn its’ paws off, and then automatically reset the circuit breakers, or allow them to be reset by remote control. None of this should cause a long outage.

          I reckon that this is a case of, “Lets get the PR wonks to give the customers a plausible story, that can place the blame anywhere else but here”.

          100

          • #
            EternalOptimist

            At high voltages there is no need to touch. Current can arc a long way, think lightning. Still remember my sergeant getting 40k volts to the end of his nose one hot day. Left a neat little black mark on his beak, and a brown stain in the radar truck.

            20

        • #
          Kneel

          Snakes and other reptiles like to crawl up onto a transformer, as they are nice and warm. Even possums etc do it in winter, although it’s rare to see mammals do this in the warmer months.

          Auto re-closers don’t help if you still have a crispy critter hanging over an insulator.

          Any crack or other defect in the insulator can result in flash-over and the insulator quite literally exploding – not nice, chunks of razor sharp porcelain fly 100m or so in all directions when that happens, so you don’t want to be anywhere near it when it goes bang. Sharp clawed animals can crate such defects, but doesn’t happen often.

          Birds won’t land on lines using 132kV and up – under any circumstances. They get a nasty shock if they try (likely not fatal, but still nasty), so they will only try it once :-) They won’t even land on the thin earth wires between towers for the same reason. The induction currents in your body from standing near (4m or so) a 330kV/132kV transformer are enough that if you are not grounded, you can draw a continuous 2mm arc to ground (like a continuous static discharge shock, so just startling, not dangerous) and I have seen a helicopter flying next to a power line for maintenance extend a pole to attach to the line and it can draw a 1m + arc (very low current) on a 330kV line with a couple hundred MW going through it.

          Rats are the worst for substations – bastard things chew through low voltage control cables, either operating equipment when it shouldn’t, or breaking the remote control system (remote as in not just from km away, but also the protection and SCADA systems etc). They also chew on high voltage underground cables, which causes loss of insulation (either SF6 gas, or de-gassified oil leaks out) and subsequent failure.

          I have also seen an isolater fail because it wasn’t fully closed – isolaters provide a visible break in the high voltage switchyard. This one was carrying about 100MW, and was high resistance enough to create an arc that looked like a stick welder 2m away when the isolater was about 100m away. Melted the corona rings and also melted a good 50mm x 10mm of 8mm mild steel contact guides. Molten metal dripped down the insulator. Fortunately, the operators tripped it off before it flashed over, but only by about 30 seconds. If I didn’t have an outage for commissioning the local SCADA system one control/indication at a time, the first they would have known was when it flashed over and tripped out :-)

          Bush fires are nasty to – fire is a great conductor, smoke can condense on insulators and corrode metals, etc.

          So lots of things can and do happen, even ones you would think are rare, while others that you might think common almost never happen.

          90

          • #
            sophocles

            although it’s rare to see mammals do this in the warmer months.

            Australian possums aren’t mammals, they’re marsupials. so they do it any time. Must have a randomiser between their ears instead of a brain…

            00

        • #
          Roy Hogue

          There are possums around here but as things got more and more built up around me they don’t get near my yard anymore. They aren’t a whole lot bigger than a squirrel and can be mistaken for a large rat until you see that long pointed snout. But they have a lot of teeth and know how to use them. When one wandered into the back yard and our cat was out I got the cat back inside real fast.

          I don’t think they eat copper wire though, all those teeth notwithstanding.

          Here’s one now, posing for his picture.

          Come to think of it, with teeth like that maybe they do eat copper wire. ;-)

          10

          • #
            Kinky Keith

            He’s certainly not “playing Possum” Roy.

            At our previous home we had possums and they were certainly not domesticated like dogs or cats. Very primal and could move like lightening when aroused.

            00

          • #
            gary turner

            Close. Around here, North Texas, about 20% of opossums’ diet consists of snakes. They are immune to the venom of copperheads, rattlesnakes and cottonmouths. They can tear a lawn up digging for insects.

            Given their rapid evolution, I wouldn’t doubt they could find nutrition in a copper wire.

            00

      • #
        Hivemind

        “…brought down a medium voltage transformer in a substation.”

        Noted that this can, and does, happen. But a medium voltage transformer tripping won’t leave 20,000 homes without power. And I think that a larger transformer wouldn’t trip from a small thing like a possum.

        40

    • #

      ” … they don’t go high … ” Methinks you haven’t met Aussie possums? I had one on a hotel 7th floor balcony rail. There was another on its way up the outside of the building.

      80

      • #
        OriginalSteve

        We had one that used to jump off our roof onto our tin roof shed every night, used to make a heck of a racket. We considered all sorts of uses for the possum including door stop, door mat, dog food etc.

        I think localized electrification is one of the few deterrents that work – like a car ignition coil, a high frequency driver circuit and a possum-sized touch pad…a brief 50 KV pulse usually deters the little sods.

        50

    • #
      Bruce J

      Just one very simple question. If they do not know the cause of the outage, how did they know what to fix to restore supply?

      110

      • #
        Rereke Whakkaro

        Most networks have multiple paths to each distribution point (usually a transformer). If the breakers have tripped on one path, the other can be used to maintain or restore supply. Don’t try this at home.

        40

        • #
          Kneel

          Got to do some maths before you try it though :-)

          If you have the A and B bus bars tied together on the other side than the side the fault is on, it might just keep working, or it might overload the “backup” and trip off even more. If the two bus bars are tied on the side the fault is on, that’s normally OK too, as long as the fault is not on the bus bar itself and the total “downstream” load is less than the rating of all available transformers (don’t forget to count the VARs!)

          Even a fully “dark” sub station of significant size can still be operated remotely because they have some quite large batteries to keep things like remote control systems alive and let them at least try to fix it that way.

          To answer Bruce’s question: you don’t need to know the cause of your car engine not starting to know the engine needs to be fixed and that it’s likely not the gearbox. Or perhaps, you don’t need to know WHY you ran out of petrol to know that you need more petrol to make the car run. :-)

          40

    • #
      Geoff Sherrington

      Guessing, I would think that leaves causing frizzle noises would degrade the quality of the electricity, keeping gear busy removing spikes and transients. If you then increase the percent of low quality renewables input, it is reasonable that the situation will worsen to give more frequent blackouts.
      High quality spinning reserve was one of the main goals when Australia was mostly coal powered. It requires political reversal of policies to regain that excellence.
      We should not be required to accept second best or worse, any more than we are stupidly required to dismiss the nuclear option.
      Please, remove the lead from the saddles, Canberra, and let us all benefit from the proven and best features of unfettered free enterprise and true competition leading to lowest consumer prices and best quality. Geoff.

      70

  • #
    Another Ian

    The Australian equivalent of

    “Quick! Look over there! A squirrel!”?

    100

    • #
      Dennis

      I hope it’s not one of the rare endangered species that is unique to the area you are in.

      50

      • #
        sophocles

        I accidently attended a Vic Acclimatization Society (or whatever it was called) public meeting in 1990 in Melbourne’s own Rosebowl. I and another half dozen kiwis in the audience were thoroughly amused to discover one item on the agenda was to garner or gauge public support for declaring the bushy-tailed possum an endangered species.

        The other kiwis were easy to recognize: like me, they thought the proposal was extremely funny and we were the only ones laughing about it. One of them spoke up. The conversation sort of went like this:

        “How many billion do you want?”
        “Eh? Waddaya mean?”
        “How many billion do you want?”
        “What?”
        “Possums. There’s billions of them in New Zealand. We would just love to round them all up and send them back. There’s a good chance the New Zealand government might even help with their fares.”
        … long pause …
        “Ah, that won’t be necessary, now where was I?”

        I mean, live bushy-tailed possums? Billions of them? Free?. What more could you guys want?

        They’re a pest in NZ. The NZ forest is ice-cream for them and native bird life is the cherry on top of the ice cream cake, rather, the eggs are. I’ve shot a fair few of them.

        110

        • #
          Extreme Hiatus

          Revealing conversation. They don’t want solutions. They want to have or invent problems for one side of their industry to ‘monitor’ and ‘research’ and all that, and they don’t want those jobs to ever end. Meanwhile the other half uses the supposed ‘endangered species’ and its ‘critical habitat’ to block whatever they want and other social engineering projects.

          The post-modern pseudoscience called ‘Conservation Biology’ that supports the ‘endangered species’ industry and their epic Mass Extinction story is actually worse than the IPCC Climatology pushing the Global Warming/Climate Change story because it gets far less scrutiny. The closer you look, the worse they both get.

          00

    • #

      Yep, that possum’s a squirrel alright.

      80

  • #

    Our power gets cut off regularly for the entire day for ‘maintenance’ and we don’t get $80 for each outage. We get a small compensation for this but not the $80, I wish.

    110

  • #
    Graeme No.3

    Why do the retailers have to pay compensation for failure of the grid? Do they own the grid between them unlike SA where it is a separate entity.
    Alternatively has Dopey Dan decided that the retailers are making too much money? Or is it a cheap way of seeming to be generous?

    50

    • #
      Robber

      You have to put in a claim to Ausnet, the distribution company for that area. There are five electricity distributors in Victoria. Each is responsible for a separate geographic region of Victoria.

      50

    • #
      Rereke Whakkaro

      Why do the retailers have to pay compensation for failure of the grid?

      It is the new way. They offer you shiny things, even if you think they don’t have to, so you will like them, and not notice that the $80 has been allowed for in progressive power bills for a long, long, time.

      50

  • #
    manalive

    Apologies for off-topic.
    The BOM is at it again record mining and briefing their favourite stenographers at AAP via The Australian this morning:

    Queensland has been hit by record temperatures for a second straight day through an intense hot spell across much of the state …
    …the sweltering heat, which the Bureau of Meteorology was tipping would deliver a statewide record of average hot temperatures, also saw 45C at Winton and a February record of 44.5 at Barcaldine …

    It will be no surprise that summers in Queensland can get pretty hot:
    “GREATEST HEAT WAVE IN STATE’S HISTORY
    EIGHT DEATHS
    BRISBANE, January 26 1940
    Eight people died in Queensland today at a result of the greatest heat the State has ever known … Winton, however, topped the list with 119 [48.3C] …”.

    Fortunately nowadays we have coal-powered air conditioning.

    240

    • #
      Rereke Whakkaro

      For how long, did the temperature in Winton, sit higher than 45 degC? If it was only for a few minutes, nobody would notice.

      Did those eight people, who died in Queensland, die from heat exhaustion, or might they have died, from other causes?

      How can anybody actually know the cause of death, until the Coroner has made a Determination of Cause? And by the way, what were the ages of those that died? What shelter did they have?

      Australian media motto: “Never Let the Truth Interfere with a Sensational Story”.

      60

  • #
    Robber

    More blackouts coming? DAMAGING WINDS averaging 50 to 60 km/h with peak gusts of 90 to 100 km/h are expected to develop over western Victoria over the next few hours before extending to central and eastern parts later in the morning.
    But meanwhile the wind farms are making hay. 860 MW in SA, 830 Vic, 920 Tas, 270 NSW, 0 in Qld, total 2880 MW. So compared to nameplate capacity of 4400 MW, that’s about as good as it gets.
    And for a brief period, SA has the lowest prices in AEMO area – $79/MWhr versus $80 in Tas and $81 in Qld. And at Tony’s bewitching hour of 4am and minimum demand, SA price was down at $40/MWhr. But by early this afternoon, SA prices will be back over $100/MWhr.
    Must be a problem in Qld this afternoon – peak price projected to be about $1400/MWhr for an hour or so.

    100

    • #
      Robber

      United Energy eastern Melbourne 42,000 homes out, cause vegetation.
      Ausnet in eastern Vic and Powercor in western Vic and Citipower and Jemena in Melb suburbs all have several ’000 out due storms and “being investigated”.
      Perhaps it’s those terrorist possums at work?

      70

      • #
        Geoff Sherrington

        Robber,
        But these are clever robber possums who only play the blackout game on very hot, windy days, while the rest of the time they just play possum. Geoff.

        00

    • #
      Peter C

      We had a blackout this morning from about 0815 to 1020. High winds the likely cause but I do not know how to find out the precise cause.

      Max gust at Essendon Airport was 91kph. Still blowing quitw hard.

      30

    • #
      Rereke Whakkaro

      “Winds averaging 50 to 60 km/h with peak gusts of 90 to 100 km/h”

      Just like central New Zealand. Although 100 km/h is being a bit showy. 80-90 km/h is a nice breezy day that keep the air fresh.

      40

  • #
    Mark M

    Turns out emitting a trace gas is a truly lousy way of causing global warming blackout causing possums to go extinct …

    “Researchers say they have discovered three living brown lemuroid ringtail possums in the Daintree National Park, on Cape York, although the Daintree possums were believed to have been killed off during a heat wave in 2005.”

    http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/extinct-possum-back-from-the-dead/news-story/b8d43499f26ac70e0c34394e66b1244d

    121

    • #

      Thanks Mark, another one gets crossed off the doomers’ backup list. Most likely the possums just went higher.
      There are places in the Daintree that even the most intrepid human would have difficulty accessing.

      70

    • #
      Bruce J

      It amazing how many “extinct” or “threatened species” are recovering as the surveillance technology improves. Maybe the animals just became more clever at avoiding humans?? Perhaps more species will recover if we increase the grants to allow even more advanced technology to be used. Pardon my cynicism, but it just seems too convenient as the 2018/9 Federal budget is being prepared.

      110

    • #
      Mark M

      Attack of the zombie possums!

      10

  • #
  • #
    TedM

    Meanwhile in Germany the “Energiewende” project…….. Copy and paste from NoTricksZone

    Green energy opposition becoming formidable force in Germany
    As Germany’s established CDU and SPD “mainstream” parties find themselves imploding, the smaller parties who oppose Germany’s out-of-control Energiewende(transition to green energies) are rapidly becoming a formidable force and making their presence felt in Germany’s national parliament like never before.
    For example Germany’s FDP Free Democrats, who refused to forge a coalition government together with CDU/CSU and Green parties, have become increasingly vocal critics of Germany’s green energy scheme.
    Politicians ignoring the concerns of its citizens

    Last month in her first speech ever in the German Parliament, FDP parliamentarian Sandra Weeser slammed the struggling Energiewende and the latest signals to promote it even further.
    In her speech Weeser points out that despite the rapidly growing green energy capacity being installed, the effort to reduce CO2 has failed, and what’s left is an unpredictable power grid that often produces energy when it is not needed (waste energy) and thus costing Germans hundreds of millions annually.
    She also accuses the established politicians of ignoring citizens as they ruin Germany’s landscape with wind parks.
    Interestingly it is often Green party voters who we find themselves among wind park protesters. In their daily lives these people are recognizing that what is being sold as green electricity in fact has nothing to do with being green. They are rejecting the industrial turbines in forests.”
    Weeser then tells that the expansion of the green energies is totally out of proportion with the existing power infrastructure, and that even the most perfect grid will not be able to handle the volatile wind and solar energies.
    Electricity “outrageously expensive”
    Weeser also dismisses claims by the Green Party that wind energy is “the most inexpensive” on the market, asking them directly: “If that is really true, then why do they need subsidies? Why are we paying 25 billion euros annually for their feed-in?”

    170

  • #
    PeterS

    Aside from the cost perspective and given the global warming alarmists are consistently predicting worse and more erratic weather patterns, they ought to be pushing for more coal fired plants for our protection. If climate conditions do get much worse as they keep telling us then solar/wind power sources will become even more useless than they are now. Any nation that relies on them too much like Australia will find themselves dancing over the cliff. The irony of it all is Australia will be alone given hundreds of new coal fired power plants are being built all over the rest of the world. I really wonder if Australians care. If they did they wouldn’t be voting for the two major parties in such large numbers.

    70

  • #
    feral_nerd

    Completely off-topic, yet topical. A new article appeared in my inbox with the following opening line:

    “Every year, human activity moves more sediment and rock than all natural processes combined.” A warmist, commenting on something I had written, also quoted this exact same statement to me a few months back, so it has clearly achieved the status the status of “well-known fact.” It strikes me as completely bogus, but I don’t have the figures at hand to dispute it. Thoughts?

    60

    • #
      el gordo

      It appears to have come out in 2004 from Michigan University and this is their logic.

      “If you ask how fast erosion takes place over geologic time—say over the last 500 million years—on average, you get about 60 feet every million years,” Wilkinson said. In those parts of the United States where soil is being eroded by human agricultural activity, however, the rate averages around 1,500 feet per million years, and rates are even higher in other parts of the world. Natural processes operate over areas larger than those affected by agriculture and construction, but even taking that into account, “the bottom line is, we move about 10 times as much sediment as all natural processes put together,” he said.

      30

    • #
      PeterS

      So what of that were true? What’s his point? Is he scared that if we move too much it might tip the earth over or something? I’d be more worried about the power being cut off for an extended period due to inadequate base load power plants. I hope I never see the day the warmists take over our lives completely. It would be hell on earth.

      10

    • #
      toorightmate

      feral_nerd,
      The major rivers of the world move a lot of sediment each day into the oceans (which contributes to sea level rise).
      My back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that mother nature is marginally behind mining, quarrying, road building and dam building/desilting/dredging each day.
      HOWEVER, when you take into account coastal erosion, mother nature wins hands down. Coastal erosion also contributes to sea level increase.
      I have not attempted to estimate material movement by wind (dust). On a global scale, this is also a massive number of cubic metres per second.
      Some time ago, I ran my back-of-the-envelope calculations past Niels Axel-Morner. He was kind enough to respond commenting that the numbers appeared reasonable, BUT the whole box and dice of erosion is miniscule compared with the twisting and folding of the earth’s crust (including sea floor) which is substantial.
      However, if you start telling people that tectonic plates are moving faster than sea level is increasing, they will try to lock you up in a padded cell.
      The truth really hurts a lot of people.

      22

  • #
    Bruce J

    Just back on-line in suburban Melbourne after a 50 minute power outage and I believe there have been others this morning. It has been a bit windy (57 km/hr at the Olympic Park station and 76 at Moorabbin), so strong winds will get the blame. What happened to designing infrastructure to be safe in foreseeable wind speeds?

    90

    • #
      OriginalSteve

      Flaky infrastructure is basically what you have described.

      Perhaps let all the local CFA guys loose on Andrews, that should fix multiple problems in one go….

      30

    • #
      crakar24

      As someones user name here states “Engineering lite”

      50

  • #
    Jono

    Its worse than that in Melbourne.

    I live in Caulfield (United Energy) and I’m suffering rolling blackouts.

    At this very moment, the power has been off since 8am and United Energy’s website says 17,335 homes affected.

    Yesterday before 6pm we lost power until 11pm.
    And today’s outage kicked in before 8am (so happy I finished breakfast and made my coffee) and is expected to end at 12:40pm.

    40

  • #
    Eddie

    What do you do when the function of government becomes primarily to posture?

    70

  • #
    Hasbeen

    Wow! There must be a lot of those big possums around here, 68,000 out of power, for up to 48 hours, after the storm on Saturday.

    Yesterday there were 7 cherry pickers & a dozen other trucks fixing the line along just 1.2 kilometres of the main road, after those possums. The lines were down between every power poll, those possums must have been having a ball.

    Here we were all blaming the gum trees overhanging the line. Not one had come down on that stretch, but many had dropped 300mm branches, some of which were tangled in the fallen lines.

    Strange those possums never caused this problem when Energex kept the trees trimmed back from the lines. It is only since they stopped clearing the high overhanging branches the possums have started these games.

    Naughty posums

    110

    • #
      Extreme Hiatus

      Well now the possums can run out onto those branches and jump down to play on the wires. Some may carry branches down to help them balance. So trimming those trees could this problem – if possum habitat protection regulations still allow that.

      20

  • #
    OriginalSteve

    Jo

    Might be worth heading this one off early…..

    https://www.domain.com.au/news/cape-town-is-running-out-of-water-heres-why-australia-should-care-20180213-h0w02g/

    “Cape Town has recently received international attention as it faces the very real possibility that it will be the first major city to run out of water. Many Capetonians can now tell you how many litres their washing machine and dishwasher use per load. Day Zero, the day the taps will be turned off, has been given a date – May 11. From then on, all residents will have to queue at collection points to receive 25 litres of water per person, per day.

    The dire state of Cape Town’s water supply comes as a result of three years of drought.

    Climate change and a growing population are largely cited as the main causes of the current crisis. Last year, Cape Town recorded its lowest rainfall since 1933 and rainfall predictions for this year’s wet season are low.”

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      beowulf

      Paul Homewood has done a complete take-down of the climate change angle of the Cape Town water situation.

      https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2018/02/13/cape-towns-drought/

      What he didn’t mention was the utter incompetence of the authorities in allowing things reach the state they are in before deciding some action is required. Here in the Hunter Valley our storage is still above 60% and restrictions are already being mooted. Until recently Cape Town just went on using water like there was no tomorrow.

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      yarpos

      “Climate change and a growing population are largely cited as the main causes of the current crisis”

      Management and political leaderships “perfect storm” rationale. Those arent causes they are symptoms. The cause is lack of leadership and lack of action.

      Never anything about lack of planning and being to busy playing politcal games to do anything real. Who knew that Sth Africa had droughts? who knew the population was growing? who new the extent of finite water resources?

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    pat

    ***squirrels?

    14 Feb: Bloomberg: How to Make It in Coal Mining: Don’t Count on Coal
    In a twilight industry, it doesn’t pay to depend on higher prices.
    By Liam Denning
    Beset by cheap natural gas, rapidly cheapening renewable energy and growing intolerance for its emissions (of which carbon is only one), coal’s defenders have had to resort to cunning plans such as the Department of Energy’s rejected Operation ***Squirrel (NB: I made that name up)…
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-13/arch-coal-earnings-making-it-by-not-counting-on-coal

    13 Feb: Reuters: Global thermal coal market to grow 5 percent in 2018 – Noble analyst
    by Sudarshan Varadhan
    GOA, India – The global thermal coal market will grow by about 48 million tonnes this year, 5 percent more than last year, the chief coal analyst at Noble Resources said on Tuesday, adding that imports to India will rise after falling in the last two years.
    “Current seaborne volumes require imports from swing suppliers, such as the United States,” Rodrigo Echeverri, the head of hard commodities research at Noble, told the Coaltrans India conference in Goa…

    Coal demand in major coal consuming countries rose and prices gained in 2017, after a downturn spanning over half a decade put many small thermal coal producers out of business.
    https://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFD8N1N7003

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    Geoffrey Williams

    ‘animals,birds or possums on the line’ or possibly a flying pig . . Let’s just wait and see.
    GeoffW

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    OriginalSteve

    Coming to SA & Victoria……Socialism refugees……?

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-02-13/mass-exodus-begins-1000s-flee-venezuelas-socialist-starvation-across-bridge

    “People are fleeing the socialism forced on them in Venezuela by the hundreds of thousands. Starving, and facing violence over crumbs of food, many have no choice but to flee the wasteland which used the authority of government to destroy the lives of its citizens.”

    https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/05/venezuela-is-falling-apart/481755/

    “What our country is going through is monstrously unique: It’s nothing less than the collapse of a large, wealthy, seemingly modern, seemingly democratic nation just a few hours’ flight from the United States.

    In the last two years Venezuela has experienced the kind of implosion that hardly ever occurs in a middle-income country like it outside of war.

    Mortality rates are skyrocketing;
    one public service after another is collapsing;
    triple-digit inflation has left more than 70 percent of the population in poverty;
    an unmanageable crime wave keeps people locked indoors at night;
    shoppers have to stand in line for hours to buy food; babies die in large numbers for lack of simple, inexpensive medicines and equipment in hospitals,
    as do the elderly and those suffering from chronic illnesses.”

    [Pretty off-topic Steve.] ED

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      OriginalSteve

      Ok, a little….the link was the failing services in Victoria ( electricity ) and that Victoriastan was suffering under socialism….

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    Another Ian

    O/T

    Canada to Turnbull re pumped storage

    “You call that a pumped storage? This is a pumped storage!”

    “The potential energy contained in the waters of the Great Lakes amounts to approximately six thousand terawatt hours, enough to supply the US and Canada with electricity for an entire year were the lakes to be drained to sea level. This of course will never happen, but there may be potential for partial utilization of the resource. A pumped hydro system that uses Lakes Huron and Michigan as the upper reservoir and Lake Ontario as the lower could theoretically generate 10 terawatt-hours, or more, of seasonal energy storage without changing lake levels significantly. The most likely show-stopper is the increased likelihood of flooding in the lower St. Lawrence River during pumped hydro discharge cycles.”

    http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/2018/02/turning-canada-.html

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    Andrew Richards

    I’m sure the ABC/MSM is now investigating any potential links the possum might have had to Barnaby Joyce.

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    Bruce

    They have been lying for so long, that many of the younger generations will actually believe them.

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    crakar24

    Here in the back waters of “the land of the long white power bill” our possums are rather small, but we have a power system that automatically discconects the source when a short is detected. The source is reconnected again and if the short is still there it disconnects this happens 3 times and if the short remains the disconnect will become permanent until manually reset.

    For 24K customers to be without power we must be talking HV, any possum arcing on a HV line will be vapourised instantly so one short will be registered but at the point of vapourisation the short will be removed and power restored.

    I assume the Victorian grid is not as advanced as ours

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    • #
      sophocles

      crakar24 assumes

      the Victorian grid is not as advanced as ours

      According to some of the “authorities” on here, it’s a “socialist” grid, so everytime it detects anything out of the ordinary, it has to stop and hold a plebicite to decide what action to take.

      It’s my guess that once stopped, it’s a case of socialist unionised inertia of “right bruvvers, everbody out until termorrer” and staying out until forcibly reset … :-)

      Incompetence doesn’t care about political flavour, it’s just incompetence and there’s a lot of it about lately.
      Rent seekers don’t care about fines if they don’t affect the rent which is collected.

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    David Maddison

    Here is a squirrel across powerlines in the US.

    https://youtu.be/0XBurkUkdFE

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      Mark D.

      That is across the lowest voltage final distribution. Even if this squirrel was solid copper the worst thing that would happen is a few houses or maybe a city block being out.

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    NB

    Possums: Protected species.
    ALP Vic: Not so much.

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    pat

    12 Feb: BBC: Chris Baraniuk: Bitcoin energy use in Iceland set to overtake homes, says local firm
    Iceland is facing an “exponential” rise in Bitcoin mining that is gobbling up power resources, a spokesman for Icelandic energy firm HS Orka has said.
    This year, electricity use at Bitcoin mining data centres is likely to exceed that of all Iceland’s homes, according to Johann Snorri Sigurbergsson…
    “If all these projects are realised, we won’t have enough energy for it,” he told the BBC.

    Mr Sigurbergsson’s calculations were first reported by the Associated Press.
    Iceland has a small population, of around 340,000 people…

    He added that he expects Bitcoin mining operations will use around 840 gigawatt hours of electricity to supply data centre computers and cooling systems, for example.
    He estimated that the county’s homes, in contrast, use around 700 gigawatt hours every year.
    “I don’t see it stopping quite yet,” added Mr Sigurbergsson, referring to data centre projects.

    “I’m getting a lot of calls, visits from potential investors or companies wanting to build data centres in Iceland.”
    He also said that there are so many proposed data centres that it wouldn’t be possible to supply all of them…
    If Iceland took on all of the proposed Bitcoin mining ventures, there simply wouldn’t be enough electricity to supply them all, he added…

    Some have questioned how beneficial the rise of the crypto-currency mining will be to Iceland.
    Smari McCarthy, a member of the Icelandic parliament for the Pirate Party, tweeted: “Cryptocurrency mining requires almost no staff, very little in capital investments, and mostly leaves no taxes either.
    “The value to Iceland… is virtually zero.”…

    But as crypto-currencies rise in popularity, mining operations certainly continue to use more and more resources – recent analysis of European energy use in 2017 by campaign group Sandbag noted that Bitcoin mining was contributing to additional power demand in the technology sector.
    http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43030677

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    Another Ian

    A bit of (very O/T) light

    “BREAKING: Tim Ball’s free-speech victory over Andrew Weaver – all charges dismissed!”

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/02/13/breaking-tim-balls-free-speech-victory-over-andrew-weaver-all-charges-dismissed/

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    Amber

    Not fair . Politicians blaming defenceless critters for power outages and foolish
    energy policies.
    Happy for Dr Tim Ball . Maybe other real scientists will now feel confident in practicing the scientific method again .
    Climate Gate showed what bully’s in a clique can try and do .

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    Kratoklastes

    One of the great mechanisms that the parasitic spivs have at their disposal, is the now-ubiqitous “spokesperson”: a third-decile “perception-management” charlatan who is paid 1.2x AWE to ‘craft’ semi-plausible narratives, swallowed unchallenged by the median voter (e.g., people who watch “Home and Away” or “Married at First Sight” on purpose).

    I have no doubt that advocating in favour of face-slaps for paid propagandists would incur the wrath of the Mrs Jessups of the world – and that really does show the extent to which the Mrs Jessups enable the charlatans.

    I am reminded of that aphorism from ‘Apocalyse Now’:

    We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won’t allow them to write “f**k” on their airplanes because it’s obscene.

    I asterisked-out the naughty naughty (pre-Norman English) words for you Mrs Jessup. Would you like an Iced Vo-Vo with your tea-and-Bex?

    [snip] ED

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    pat

    ***”environmental groups plural is one person from the Sierra Club:

    14 Feb: Reuters: Wyoming, Utah explore funding legal challenges to West Coast coal policies
    by Valerie Volcovici
    A Utah lawmaker on Monday proposed allocating $2 million to cover legal fees to private attorneys that would challenge a California surcharge on Utah coal, imposed as part of a cap-and-trade system to cut greenhouse gas emissions there.

    In Wyoming, a Republican lawmaker on Monday introduced a bill in the state’s Republican-controlled lower house that would let the legislature hire and pay for its own outside lawyer to sue Washington state for denying permits for an export terminal.

    In both efforts, lawmakers argue the moves interfere with their states’ economies, which rely heavily on coal mining. Both bills have passed subcommittees and political observers expect them to have a good chance of passing their Republican-controlled legislatures.

    Western coal mining companies have already filed lawsuits against Washington state and the city of Oakland, California challenging local decisions to block export facilities on environmental grounds. The industry is also lobbying the Trump administration to override the local decisions, though it is unclear what policy options are available to the White House.

    The strategy to pursue legal challenges could be a long shot. Courts have tended in the past to side with local authorities in similar cases…

    The Wyoming bill says Washington state is interfering with Wyoming’s economic interests by denying permits for a Longview, Washington terminal proposed by Lighthouse Resources, that would give Powder River Basin coal producers access to more lucrative Asian markets.
    In Utah, Republican state lawmaker Mike Noel, who proposed the bill targeting California, said that state’s environmental policies “control” Utah’s rural coal economy. ..

    ***Environmental groups said such efforts were a waste of taxpayer money.
    ”Forcing Utahns to invest $2 million into this industry is asking them to take on incredible risk that will yield no long-term benefits,” said Ashley Soltysiak, Utah chapter director for the Sierra Club…
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-coal-exports/wyoming-utah-explore-funding-legal-challenges-to-west-coast-coal-policies-idUSKCN1FX2QG

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    pat

    14 Feb: news.com.au: AAP: Qld govt blocks Acland coal mine expansion
    Queensland’s environment department will not allow for the expansion of the New Acland mine.
    Queensland’s environment department will not grant approvals for the proposed $900 million expansion of the New Acland coal mine, leaving hundreds of jobs in limbo…

    In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, New Hope Coal said it was disappointed by the outcome and would consider its options in response.
    “The company is committed to securing approval for this project and in doing so being able to provide ongoing employment for the approximately 300 employees and 500 contractors currently engaged at the New Acland Coal Mine,” the statement read.
    Environmentalists cheered the department’s decision on Wednesday…

    Land Court member Paul Smith found despite its long-term economic value, the expanded mine’s potentially adverse effect on the groundwater for hundreds of years to come was sufficient to warrant its rejection.
    The Queensland Resource Council branded it a “very surprising decision” which put 700-plus jobs at risk and would have devastating flow-on effects for the local community.
    “Yet again regional jobs have been dealt a major blow,” QRC boss Ian Macfarlane said.
    “This project is vital to the Darling Downs and would create a further 2300 indirect jobs and create $12 billion in economic benefits over the life of the project.”

    New Acland Coal applied for a judicial review of the Land Court’s decision, which could invalidate the department’s decision, with a Queensland Supreme Court hearing set down for March 19.

    Mr Lynham is yet to rule on whether to grant the required mining leases.
    http://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/decision-due-on-qld-coal-mine-expansion/news-story/fb61faa7028dc21f5714838eaddb45db

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    pat

    14 Feb: Livemint: Gireesh Chandra Prasad: Coal output to be ramped up shortly, says power minister Piyush Goyal
    A surplus coal output in the wake of muted demand from power plants had last year forced Coal India to slow down production, leading to an unexpected shortage after demand picked up from power stations
    New Delhi: Coal minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday coal output will be ramped up over the coming weeks as efforts are on across ministries to help raise production after an unexpected surge in coal demand from power plants.
    Goyal said the ministries of coal, mines and environment are working on the matter and production will be ramped up quickly…

    Goyal, who was speaking at a review of the performance of NLC India Ltd, formerly Neyveli Lignite Corporation Ltd, said the company seeks to double its mining capacity by 2025. The company, which now produces 31 million tonnes a year, has seen its output surging three-fold in the last three years. NLC, which also produces power, is expected to see its generation capacity more than double from 2.7 gigawatts (GW) in 2014 to 5.7GW by March 2018…
    http://www.livemint.com/Politics/e9K7Vm2ReIhFruplHVW8XI/Coal-output-to-be-ramped-up-shortly-Piyush-Goyal.html

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    pat

    13 Feb: ClimateChangeNews: Megan Darby: Leaked draft summary of UN special report on 1.5C climate goal – in full
    Read the draft summary for policymakers of the most important climate science report of the year, on the challenge of holding global warming to 1.5C
    Climate Home News has obtained a draft of the summary for policymakers, which sifts through the peer-reviewed literature for answers.

    The draft report, which was publicly available on the US federal register over the past month, is open to review by experts and governments until 25 February on the IPCC website. Relevant studies published in journals by 15 May may be included in the final version and modify its conclusions…READ ON
    http://www.climatechangenews.com/2018/02/13/leaked-draft-summary-un-special-report-1-5c-climate-goal-full/

    13 Feb: ClimateChangeNews: Megan Darby: 11 takeaways from the draft UN report on a 1.5C global warming limit
    UN draft report says missing 1.5C warming target will multiply hunger, migration and conflict, but staying under will require unprecedented global cooperation
    Climate Home News has obtained an early version of the five-chapter report, which is due to be finalised in September. The IPCC stressed it was a work in progress and may change substantially. It is open for review by experts and governments, and may incorporate further studies published by 15 May…

    What is clear from the content so far, though, is there is not much time left. Here are the main takeaways…READ ON

    11. Prepare for social change
    As much as any technology, 1.5C depends on people changing their behaviour.
    That means the rich eating less meat, using energy sparingly and forgoing private cars. And it means tackling institutional barriers to action like public attitudes, lack of resources or special interests.
    http://www.climatechangenews.com/2018/02/13/11-takeaways-draft-un-report-1-5c-global-warming-limit/

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    pat

    13 Feb: UK Times: 1,000 onshore wind turbines built in rush to beat deadline
    More than a thousand onshore wind turbines were installed in the UK last year as energy companies scrambled to build new projects before government subsidies were scrapped.
    The surge produced new facilities capable of producing up to 2.6 gigawatts of electricity — double the 1.3 gigawatt capacity that was added in 2013.
    Offshore wind installations also hit a record high as 281 turbines capable of generating up to 1.7 gigawatts started spinning in British waters, according to the Wind Europe lobby group.

    The Conservatives fought the 2015 general election on a pledge to end subsidies for new onshore wind farms, amid fierce opposition from backbenchers and concern that their costs were pushing up household energy bills.
    Ministers shut down the main subsidy scheme which supported…
    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/1-000-onshore-wind-turbines-built-in-rush-to-beat-deadline-ghz905vzd

    double-speak:

    12 Feb: SolarPowerPortal: David Pratt: Public shoul be told the cost of locking out solar says CCC chair
    Speaking at last week’s Energy Storage and Connected Systems event, hosted by the Renewable Energy Association (REA), Lord Deben pointed to a lack of transparency around the inherent costs of decarbonising the energy system without so-called ‘pot 1’ technologies, namely solar and onshore wind.
    “I think if you stop the cheapest way of moving towards a carbon free [environment] you have to tell the public how much you are charging them for that choice,” he said…
    “I’ve always thought it’s quite wrong for government to say ‘we’re not going to have onshore wind’ without saying to the public ‘that means your cost of decarbonising the electricity system is increased by so much’. Otherwise people don’t make a choice between two real things.”

    Lord Deben’s comments echo those of the CCC’s head of carbon budgets Mike Thompson, who told Solar Power Portal in February 2016 that the government must be transparent about the additional costs incurred by backing more expensive generators…
    His comments followed confirmation by then energy secretary Amber Rudd that there were “no plans” for solar to be included in future CfD rounds…

    Since then, calls have been made for a replacement mechanism to be introduced that offers the security of a long term government backed agreement but without the heavy subsidy judged to have been granted to solar – a zero subsidy Contracts for Difference (CfD).

    Also speaking at the event was Ben Irons, executive director at ‎Aurora Energy Research, who said the introduction of such a scheme would be game changing.
    “If the government were offering what you might call a zero subsidy CfD that would be a major breakthrough for the opportunity to invest in a lot more renewables,” he stated.
    “If the government were to guarantee revenue to solar and wind at the expected baseload power price, ie. an expectation the subsidy they are offering costs nothing but it de-risks the asset and the investment and therefore renewables allow capital to flow. That is a real game changer for renewables.”

    He added that this would also create “a fantastic opportunity” to deploy battery storage, which would be able to manage the increased volatility on the energy system brought about by even higher penetration of renewables…

    Lord Deben went further to suggest that solar and onshore wind should be able to bid into the existing auction mechanism below the level of subsidy to win the long-term security of a government-backed contract…

    However, Conservative MP James Heappey claimed that solar could now be deployed at scale without such measures having consulted with “people in green finance” who claimed there is a return available in the market.
    He stated: “I would agree that solar and onshore wind are the cheapest forms of electricity generation…My view is that now we have reached a point where subsidy is probably no longer required.”
    https://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/news/public_should_know_the_cost_of_locking_out_solar_says_ccc_chair

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    Robber

    AEMC has just published on its website the 27 submissions it has received on its Reliability Frameworks Review.
    Would welcome some crowdsourcing to develop some analysis on each submission.
    One out of the box from Docklands Science Park that arose from the combined desire of The University of Melbourne and RMIT University to have an entity doing the “D” of R&D whilst the Universities concentrated on the “R”. “We have the proven technology to burn Yallourn brown coal to produce electricity for some $30 per MWh, WITHOUT any emissions to atmosphere at all”.

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    Bruckner8

    Tim was basically gagged for seven years. I don’t call that winning.

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    Rob Leviston

    Hmm, just did a quick Google search. The typical feeder transformer supplies 50-150 houses.
    So what, pray tell, did a possum take out? I mean, 20,000 customers?
    Something fishy in the reporting, methinks!
    And so much for it being ‘gold plated,!
    Still the same old stuff we have had for donkey years!

    https://www.researchgate.net/post/Typically_how_many_houses_does_a_distribution_transformer_supply_in_a_residential_area

    00