January 11, 2018

Taking electricity for granted

We don't tend to think about where the modern conveniences of life come from until they stop coming. Earlier this year, Rocky Mountain Power was having difficulty keeping the lights on in my neighborhood. A breaker kept tripping where the overhead lines go underground.

These breakers are basically explosive bolts. They are LOUD. A mile away and it sounds like a thunderclap.

Because light and electricity move at speeds instantaneous to human senses, count the seconds between a flash of lightning and the thunderclap, divide by five, and that's how many many miles away it was.

In this case, the same thing in reverse. The lights would go out, then a few seconds later, BOOM!

They seem to have figured out the problem because it's happened only once since. (I was at work but one of my clocks doesn't have a battery backup.) Though I did get a couple of these handy units just in case.

And where does my electricity come from? Well, the company-owned net generation capacity is 10,894 megawatts from 72 generating plants, distributed over 16,500 miles of transmission lines via 900 substations.

Coal-fueled facilities - 10
Hydroelectric facilities - 41
Natural gas facilities - 7
Wind facilities - 13
Geothermal facilities - 1

And where does Rocky Mountain Power comes from? Turns out, it's a division of PacifiCorp, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Energy. Thanks Warren!

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