Quote of the Day – Anonymous (11/29/2012)

Reverse Reactive Power is a quantity defined by the IEEE and we know it is real and exists because the lights are on.

Anonymous – Discussion during a meeting


[We spent more time arguing about this subject than should have been allowed, the instigator just wouldn't let it go.  He couldn't understand the subject at hand and felt that the usage of the words were wrong.  Never mind every last power engineer in the room was saying it was perfectly descriptive of exactly what was required for the specification.

For an idea of how bad it was, I was waiting for the meeting to get physical as the instigator became very aggressive about his issue and ignoring the responses because he didn't understand it.  The person running the meeting was becoming notably upset at the unnecessary delay to moving forward and the fact he was ignoring the responses.

The person couldn't grasp the concept of directionality coupled with reactive power.  To him it was imaginary it didn't exist, current either leads or lags.  He couldn't understand that while it was imaginary in a mathematical sense, it was real, and it results in things such as heat and other issues.  What really got him though was the idea that power has a direction.

Finally one person restated, yes I said restated, that the IEEE has defined this term explicitly and finally justified his point at the end by noting that the fact lights over our heads were working and so obviously Reverse Reactive Power does exist.

It was about this time I was doing everything I could to suppress laughter.

There are days I both love and hate this job.  I will say I'm saving that quote and will paraphrase it when I find a situation like this again.

We spent lunch working on educating him on all the details of what it was, how it was measured, and why there was a direction involved.  He was a bit better but was still a little confused.  I will say it was probably a good thing I was my father's son instead of my father in this little incident.  I will say I heard his words in the back of my head, the phrase "You obviously have the intelligence of a banana slug" flashed through my brain in my father's voice.

Don't get me wrong, he's smart and sharp, but he knows jack about power, power systems, and what goes into protecting them.  Truly smart men recognize what they may not know and listen instead of insisting everyone else is wrong.  Especially when the others can mathematically show and prove their point.* -B]

*Geek out moment, Reactive Power is explicitly a mathematical quantity.  It is the complex or imaginary portion of Apparent Power.  Forward and reverse is applied merely to indicate the direction of power flow relative to a location.  For example which direction is power flowing in a power line?  To people in this industry directionality is what makes the world turn.  You need to know if the fault is in front or behind your monitoring equipment.  Well if you’re looking at the output of a generator and you see power flowing into the generator (reverse), that’s not a good thing and very rarely intentional.  Something is going to get very warm if you don’t do something soon.

Barron is the owner, editor, and principal author at The Minuteman, a competitive shooter, and staff member for Boomershoot. Even in his free time he’s merging his love and knowledge of computers and technology with his love of firearms.

He has a BS in electrical engineering from Washington State University. Immediately after college he went into work on embedded software and hardware for use in critical infrastructure. This included cryptographic communications equipment as well as command and control devices that were using that communications equipment. Since then he’s worked on just about everything ranging from toys, phones, other critical infrastructure, and even desktop applications. Doing everything from hardware system design, to software architecture, to actually writing software that makes your athletic band do it’s thing.

About Barron Barnett

Barron is the owner, editor, and principal author at The Minuteman, a competitive shooter, and staff member for Boomershoot. Even in his free time he’s merging his love and knowledge of computers and technology with his love of firearms. He has a BS in electrical engineering from Washington State University. Immediately after college he went into work on embedded software and hardware for use in critical infrastructure. This included cryptographic communications equipment as well as command and control devices that were using that communications equipment. Since then he’s worked on just about everything ranging from toys, phones, other critical infrastructure, and even desktop applications. Doing everything from hardware system design, to software architecture, to actually writing software that makes your athletic band do it’s thing.
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6 Responses to Quote of the Day – Anonymous (11/29/2012)

  1. BobG says:

    Sounds like an interesting discussion. I spent quite a few years working with large motors and generators (three-phase and DC) and large power transformers.

  2. Lyle says:

    While I find the concept of gigantic power systems serving whole geographic regions, tactically speaking, a bad idea, I do find the engineering extremely interesting.

    • Actually from a large system perspective, there isn’t anything wrong tactically and in actuality it should be encouraged.

      Think of it like the internet, loosing a substation or a transmission line overall doesn’t matter, the system as a whole can continue to operate through redundant paths.

      The issue we have now though is the system is becoming over burdened without allowance for building new transmission lines. Also you have the government who creates BS regulations which help contribute to things like the NE blackout because a system restart is cheaper than the fines from the government to save the system.

      A properly designed and implemented system is more resilient than most people give them credit for.

  3. Old NFO says:

    I don’t unnerstan… :-P

  4. Chuck says:

    I worked for Scientific Columbus back in the day. We made tie-line interchange meters (where one power company sells power to another) and check metering systems (where a customers wants a meter to keep the power company honest).. My gut tells me that the guy’s problem was that he could not imagine a load that was not a constant, but consisting of capacitive and inductive loads..

    Most people imagine the load to be like a giant resistor “out there” but in fact it’s a wildly varying beast of inductors bucking and boosting the power as well as capacitors..

    It’s a mess really, and a challenge to meter. I look at the “imaginary” part as just where it fits in the equations not actually *imaginary*

    • Barron says:

      No it wasn’t that because he understood leading and lagging and power factor. His issue was he was trying to tie leading and lagging to the direction. He didn’t understand how you could have a lagging generator that was still feeding power out.

      In his defense we found out there were some others there who had the same issue. They tied direction directly to leading or lagging in the current. They didn’t understand there was an extra rotation involved to find direction. Who thought the idea that there is a direction for power flow would be so confusing.