Now, they have a chance to rewire. That's a start.
Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
Under the ground in NYC is an absolute cluster fuck of layers upon
layers upon layers of utilities that date back more than 100 years, and
much of it is not in good condition. For example, the water mains that
feed the entire city are controlled by enormous valves that are more
than 100 years old, long overdue for replacement, yet cannot be shut off
because they're afraid they would crumble and fail catastrophically.
Which, eventually, they will, even if they don't touch them.
I think there are plenty of documentaries out there that detail our
crumbling infrastructure fairly well. Maybe we should give up being the
world's thug and start a new WPA with the money.
At the moment they are rather far into finishing another main water
supply tunnel into NYC. With incredible foresight <grin> they are hoping
that will be completed before one or another of the 2 old tunnels, or
their valves, fail(s).
And this liberal is proposing that the NJ BPU and the local and state
authorities should "encourage" the utilities to invest in better, more
"hardened" transmission lines and substations, and to maintain properly the
utility pole infrastructure. Perhaps that should cost money, perhaps even
big money, but that would be an investment, and the rate payers would have
to pay. Poor me.
No, we can't forget the pension funds that (in NJ) haven't been funded
for years. The gvnmt has just squirreled it away and spent it, the
former Dem gvnmt as well as the current Christie gvnmt. But that wasn't
my point. My point is not that the stock holders should be stiffed
(although, weren't they remiss in making sure their investment was safe,
from storms as well as other hazards?). My point is that in order to
have aproductive investment long term, one should harden the capital
invested, i.e. make sure that the utility poles are not rotted and
leaning, aren't in places where trucks and buses can knock them over,
have wiring that isn't about to part, and have substations (quite an
investment, each one) that aren't prone to flooding. I'm fairly sure
that would cost many millions to achieve, but in the long run (if done
right) would be cheaper than repairing things on the scale we are doing
now. Irene, freak snowstorm, Sandy, the next nor'easter, etc.
And yes, the rate payers would have to pay off the bonds.
1. How much will it cost to get the electrical power supply system in NY and
NJ back to where it was before the storm? Is $10 billion reasonable?
2. How much will it cost to "harden" the electrical power supply system and
how long will it take? Just guessing, $30 billion, five years of disruption
while they tear up the streets.
Now which is the more prudent financial tack: $10 billion every 100 years or
$30 billion one time?
To tell the truth, it might be cheaper for the power companies to supply
each householder with a portable generator rather than harden the system!
Before you gasp, some thought has been given to "mini-grids," that is, each
neighborhood wired to its own separate power distribution system that can be
supplied from the big grid or a honkin' genset.
I like those small nuclear reactors like what I saw proposed for Galena,
Alaska but the expense of getting government approval has
held it up. The proposed reactor, the Toshiba 4S is quite interesting
and there are other micro reactors designed for large buildings to make
them independent of the grid. ^_^
I got the distinct impression that with at least 2 100-year floods in 2
years, a freak October snow storm a few months later that did as much
damage to the electric distribution system as Irene did a few months
before, and now a Sandy, which did about 3 times as much damage as Irene,
that either we will be safe for another 500 years, or that climate change
is really here. My bet is /not/ on being safe for 500 years. That means
to me that investing in proper electrification and distribution systems
is a good investment. People have been warning for years for exactly the
kind of storm surge that did us in now. They aren't crying wolf. They
are Cassandra - very good predictors of very unpleasant phenomena.
That is what I have done - buy a small, quiet generator to power the
essentials. I meant to test it today, but didn't get to it.
We have a system like that, as I thought everyone did (or I
misunderstand). Big honking generating stations, transmission lines to
distribution stations, then substations, then high voltage lines off of
which lower voltage distribution lines feed, and finally transformers to
household quality powerlines off of which the individual homes are fed.
The problem hereabouts is that the substations got flooded and had to be
carefully cleaned and dried, and repaired and checked. Then they had to
cut down and clean up the trees, erect new utility poles, string new
wiring, install new transformers, and finally reconnect the homes. Check
the wiring etc before throwing the switch to on. With crews from all
over the country, they may finish most next weekend, at least 2 weeks
after the storm. I don't know what is happening with this nor'easterthey
named Athena, I think. Some extra outages have already been reported
here. SO far, so good on my street ...
Indeed, there are only 2 sure ways, underground or no trees. Neither
will happen, because the trees shade the homes, and underground is too
expensive. Judicious trimming is sometimes done, and everyone complains
about the damage to the trees that look real weird afterwards (the tree
trimmers aren't familiar with esthetics).
It was just stupid to have so much infrastructure in places where this
storm could reach it. Doesn't mean the sea has to moved. Only means you
have to make sure tunnels, electrical substations and emergency
generators can't possible get flooded like the ones in the subbasement of
the Manhattan VA that were supposed to protect the freezers with YEARS of
precious samples I collected. I am f'ing mad about that, though I am
retired and it isn't my problem anymore.
Perhaps they could just as easily point the finger at you and your
organization and say that it was you who didn't prepare adequately
by not putting important samples in sub-basements that can get
flooded to begin with. Or if you did, having sufficient pumps and
back-up generators to make sure they have a high probability of
As to making huge infrastructures like electric distribution able to
withstand 75 year events, I bet once the cost hits your utility bill
you'd have a very different opinion. I'm not saying some modest
improvements can't or shouldn't be made. Just that if you want
your power back on in less than a week from a storm that
statistically happens every 50 years or so, then it's going to cost
a whole lot of money.
I don't know about you, but I survived here in NJ just a few miles
from the ocean just fine with a generator for a week. And I think
JCPL did a very good job restoring power. I had crews from
Alabama working here. In one spot there were about 10 trucks
repairing a section of a few poles that were down. In that regard,
one of the most impressive photos I saw was of utility trucks
being loaded on C-17's in California. They had at least 8 cargo
planes ferrying them over here.
My house came out relatively well. Lost one big section of
shingles, about 15 x 4 ft and had some minor water damage
as a result. Two 35 year old trees came down, one blocked
the garage. The other would have crushed my den, but I got
lucky and it went the other way. Been busy cutting up firewood.
The shore here in NJ is devastated. By shore, I mean areas that
are mostly a few blocks from the water. IT was the tidal surge
that did most of the really bad damage, talking out whole
houses. I told folks that were new here at the shore that the
ocean has met the bay in hurricanes long past, but few can
comprehend that. It's happened before, creating new inlets,
closing others. This time it created an inlet right at the
Mantoloking bridge. That bridge goes across Barnegat Bay,
connecting the barrier island to land at that point. Right
where the bridge is, the ocean swept across to the bay,
creating a new inlet and submerging that end of the bridge.
Last cound I saw there were 25 houses gone in Mantoloking
and 25 so bad they have to be torn down. That's in a town
of just 525 or so very expensive homes.
Anyone interested in some good shots of the damage can
google "Mantoloking sandy images"
I am not sure why I should have put my samples in the basement to get
flooded. Probably I am misreading things. I was just informed that
other medical institutions near the VA were also severely damaged because
they had similarly put their emergency generators in areas that got
flooded. I simply don't understand that, in view of the flooding
experiences from some time ago. Perhaps because of my Dutch heritage and
respect for what water can do, I would have thought that a flood of
magnitude A would make you take precautions to withstand a flood of at
least magnitude A plus 5 feet, if not more.
75 year or even 100 year events do not wait that amount of time to recur,
as you know from Floyd and other storms like Irene, the Halloween
snowstorm, and now Sandy. Perhaps we should be a little more pro-active
(I really hate that phrase, but it fits here).
I bought a generator ... And the help we are getting is remarkable
indeed, and we are grateful for it.
We had no personal damage at all. Others weren't so lucky, but I don't
know of any real personal injuries other than reported in the news.
I have seen first hand the rather mild devastation around here - mostly
trees and wires down, impressive enough for me. I have seen the pictures
of the shore, reminding me of the flood of '53 in Holland. Google
"watersnood 1953" and click images.
Glad you got off rather well in comparison!
Another incredible misunderstanding of statistics. Incredible because
you're normally a critical thinker and don't just jump on the
bandwagon. Sandy is NOT a 75 year event meaning that it only happens
every 75 or even 50 years (you change in mid-thought): we might have
another Sandy next year (or week) or it might be 200 or more (like
infinity) years in the future. Historically Sandy and similar storms
haven't happened sufficiently frequently to be able to accumulate any
level of quasi-reliable data points.
Even things that have large numbers of data points (like numbers in
lottery wins) are subject to random incidence. IIRC this is called the
"roulette" or "Monte Carlo" principle. But amazingly people make
statements like "The number ten hasn't come up in 1000 spins of the
wheel so it must be due. I'll bet the farm on ten." Goodbye farm.
You also only seem to count the electric rates as a balancing item.
How about the loss of life? The enormous costs to the homeowners
affected? The spread of those costs via insurance to everyone else.
The costs to businesses of days of missed work. The foregone revenue
from tourists. The list is endless.
If anything Sandy shows just how stupid the policy of deferred
upgrading is. I don't know lots about "big" electricity but there's a
sub-station about 3 miles away -- huge, a full city lot, all out in
the open, built on a slab, about 30-years old -- which must be rained
on every time it rains. It doesn't blow up like the 14th St one. I
suspect that the construction of transformers has undergone
considerable changes in the intervening time especially in
waterproofing but the short-term mentality (justified no doubt by
similar erroneous application of statistics) meant that the 14th St
sub-station has never been upgraded.
On Thu, 08 Nov 2012 00:08:42 -0500, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
I read somewhere that a Sandy hadn't happened in NY recorded history.
About 300 years.
It's a shame about those samples, and no easy answer to protecting
frozen stuff requiring refrigeration. Could get very costly.
I'd want my stuff buried in Antarctic ice, and deny global warming.
Companies use services to store data tapes in dry caves in western
arid areas. At least that was my understanding when I was in IT.
Can't remember the location.
But shit happens anyway. Military records lost in St. Louis fire.
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