Posts Tagged ‘Diesel generators’

Maryland and Washington begin to sound like Delhi

February 6, 2011

In India, planned blackouts are used commonly for the management of electricity load. Delhi is used to regular black-outs and there is is no likelihood in the near future that the availability and quality of electric power will be sufficient to eliminate this system of load management. There is no office or shopping mall or large home in Delhi which does not plan for this by installing diesel generators as back-up. Smaller households or those which cannot afford generators use inverters which are sufficient for lighting and perhaps a fridge during an outage but cannot supply enough power for long enough for any air-conditioners or any heating. Even when power is available, the voltage variation is so large that virtually all electrical equipment must be protected by voltage stabilisers.

The black-outs in Delhi occur most often at peak times (around breakfast or dinner) and commonly at night during low load when equipment is shut off for maintenance to be carried out. Unplanned outages are apt to occur at any time. It is on summer nights that the sounds of Delhi are drowned by those of generators cutting in to keep air-conditioners running. There is no possibility of sound regulations being implemented to limit this noise and for those who have difficulty to sleep there is no alternative but to sound-proof their bed-rooms or to use ear-plugs.

The quality and reliability and availability of electric power in the more developed countries (Europe, Japan, US) is often quoted as the target for the Indian power generation and distribution system to aspire to.

But it seems that the US grid is now so weak that parts of Maryland and Washington are beginning to sound like Delhi. The Wasington Post reports:

map

Blackouts 2010 in Maryland and Washington

In Pepco territory, blackouts mean more home generators, more noise complaints

For Arthur Bennett, blackouts now come with a soundtrack.When last month’s “thundersnow” knocked out power in Bennett’s Montgomery County neighborhood, the preindustrial hush inside his house – when even the refrigerator seemed to hold its breath – soon gave way to the two-stroke roar of engines up and down his block.

Bennett, like many residents of Pepco‘s service area in Maryland and the District, has concluded that blackouts are likely to get even louder as the utility’s fed-up customers turn increasingly to backup power. According to retailers and electricians, home generator sales are booming in the area Pepco serves, especially since the company has been plagued by repeated, prolonged outages
over the past few years. Portable generators sold out at several home stores after the latest storm, and installers report that sales of high-end whole-house units have skyrocketed.

Jim Holt of Gaithersburg’s Holt Electrical said his sales of home generators have been climbing steadily and reached a near “level of panic” after the last blackout – mainly on Pepco’s turf. …….

…………. One thing both generator owners and their juiceless neighbors can agree on is the frustration of having to debate this issue at all. “I really think it’s kind of scandalous that in the capital of the world, we’ve got third-world reliability for electric power,” said Larry Posner of Shepherd Park in Northwest.

Read the entire article.


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