Hey, I Know that Place

Phil over at RNS posted a video a while ago, dang thing is still freaking awesome a couple months later.

Thing is, that is quite literally my back yard growing up.  My buddy lived up there by Lake Morton and we drove by Mix’s house all the time.  I also remember flying in and out of that airstrip with my dad when I was real little.  Watching it does make me miss the green trees of the West side.  Then I remember the traffic and that I am minutes from numerous different types of wilderness.

How Does the Power System Work? Part 1

I’ve often thought about creating a multipart series regarding the dangers and truth behind “Green” technology.  Laziness has been winning on the front of me not doing it.  When I started this post Alan had just posted something about FERC changing the allowable deviation in frequency of the power grid.  That was then followed by MRS over at RNS posting something regarding Germany decommissioning a bunch of their nuke plants.

So for those who know me personally, you’ll have an idea of how much I really know about all this.  Seriously I’m not going to go into full detail on everything I know about all this stuff.  For those who don’t know me, my job entails me knowing lots about the power system and how it works.  It’s funny really, I’m a EE code monkey, who knows power systems, digital signal processing, and embedded systems.  For exact details on what I do or where I work, sorry, see the disclaimer.  Suffice it to say I know lots about transmission, distribution, industrial installations, and power protection and operation.  Teaching is selling, and what I hope to do here is provide a solid description and lesson in how the power system works.  Describing what is actually going on so when your legislator runs his mouth off you’ll know it.

How am I going to do it. I’m going to write a multi-part series covering the power system, how it works, and then I will discuss how different proposals and political pushes end up affecting it.  I will also answer any questions that come in, either in the comments directly or in a post if I feel it’s significant.  So in todays installment I’m going to cover at a very high level an overview of the power system, what different parts do, and how they relate.

General System Overview:

To begin with we have the power system.  It consists of three things at the core:

  1. Generation
  2. Transmission (I’m including distribution in this)
  3. Load


Generation is responsible for converting different types of energy into electrical energy.  Usually the primary energy is kinetic, such as spinning a turbine, a spinning windmill, or the energy from photons from the sun.  Usually generation also involves the creation of that kinetic energy, such as heating water to create steam.  For efficiency, as well as ease of future steps in the system, generation mainly occurs in AC.  Some generation is done in DC, such as solar but it is not common.  I’ll go into the details of generation later.

Once we have created electrical energy we need to move it to where it’s consumed.  This is called transmission and is due to the fact that most generation occurs well away from densely populated areas.  Many argue that green technologies will move energy production closer to the consumers, however current implementations are proving otherwise.  A prime example is offshore wind farms, solar plants are in the middle of the desert, in Washington wind farms are going in all over on the eastern side to power western Washington.  Back to the matter of transmission though the power has to be moved to where it’s consumed.  To do this it is moved on large sets of power lines, such as these.  Prior to being connected to the lines though the voltage is raised considerably.  This is to minimize power losses on the line, the details of why will be covered later, the voltage is raised so a lower current flows along the line.  On the other end when it gets closer to the consumer the voltage is lowered again.  AC power allows these changes to be easily done by the use of transformers.  After it has be stepped down again it has now moved into the distribution system.  In the distribution system it is split up and fed to individual customers and further stepped down in voltage from what is used on the distribution system.  Once we arrive at the customer we get to the loads.  Again, later DC transmission will also be covered, it does happen but not frequently.

Loads are consumers, you and I really, that are actually using the power to perform a task.  There are two types of loads (electrically) really, inductive and capacitive.  Again the details will be covered later, but loads cause the relationship between current and voltage to be different.  Not only can it be different, but it can get out of whack to the point where your utility has trouble metering it.  When that happens they’ll stick you with an extremely high rate until you fix it.  Again I will cover the details of all of that later, why it’s a problem, and how they solve it.  Most home users though just have simple loads such as their TVs, computers, washing machine, dryer, stove, and refrigerator to name a few.  TVs and computers often contain a internal converter since most of their electronics actually run off of DC instead of AC, this conversion is of interest to the power system as that is what the system really sees as the load.  Out of the list the other big hitter is refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers.  All three of which contain motors.  Motors are a special type of load for the system especially since their operation and efficiency is directly tied to the frequency of the input power.

Overall there are numerous things through the system that are trying to guarantee the following:

  • 60Hz Nominal frequency (50Hz in a few places).  The system all needs to be synchronized, why will be covered later.. 
  • Steady wall voltage 120 VAC in the US, 220 in Europe.  The bottom line is that voltage needs to be correct.  Fluctuations, and running high or low consistently leads to "dirty power” issues
  • Reserve/Absorb power.  When you flip your light switch you want them to turn on.  You don’t want to wait for the generator to spool up.  Just the same when you turn off the light, there’s now excess power on the system.

Slowly over the next couple weeks I’m going to cover how each part works in detail, how they relate to each other, and ultimately why you care.  There’s a lot going on behind the screen and as usual it is a massive pie to try and understand.  Seriously, these posts are going to get huge, I will try to keep them as down to earth as possible, but at the same time providing the details to those who really want it.  If you have questions, feel free to post in the comments, if they’re closed hit the contact me.  I would like feedback, if I’m shooting way over peoples heads it’s going to be hard for me to tell.  I have had many say I’m good at explaining this stuff, but they could have just been humoring me. 

As a push for people who may stumble across this later, to find all the parts of this series, the full series list is here.  My goal will be a section a week with it posting every Friday Wednesday starting next week till I think it’s fully covered and there’s no more questions coming in.

Update: The wife said I should just do it on hump day. It will help even out posts through out the week so it’s a good idea.

The Definition of Hypocrite

Last week our fearless leader President Obama was flip flopping on automated manufacturing while thinking all of us had the memory of a rock. This week he is acting like a total hypocrite by bad mouthing congress for taking a break during a “crisis”.

In an animated rant that livened up an otherwise subdued press conference, President Obama today lit into Congress for failing to reach an agreement to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling as an Aug. 2 deadline approaches, despite repeated urgings by the administration to do so. At one point he even reprimanded lawmakers by noting that his two daughters manage to do their homework ahead of time, a diligence rarely seen on gridlocked Capitol Hill.

This coming from the same man who, as of June 16th, 2011, has played 70 rounds of golf since coming into office. The hypocrisy doesn’t end there though, for you see it was purely congress who ran up the bill.

“These are bills that Congress ran up,” he noted. “The money’s been spent. The obligations have been made. So this is not a situation – I think the American people have to understand this – this is not a situation where you know, Congress is going to say, ‘Okay, we won’t buy this car or we won’t take this vacation.’ They took the vacation, they bought the car, and now they’re saying maybe we don’t have to pay or we don’t have to pay as fast as we said we were going to. That’s not how responsible families act. We’re the greatest nation on earth and we can’t act that way. So this is urgent and it needs to get settled.”

Emphasis mine. Obama pushed for the trillion dollar bailout, he pushed his medical “reform” bill, and ultimately he has spent faster than any other president in history. Don’t believe me, here’s just the graph from my previous post on this again:


He talked about being financially responsible prior to getting elected and then he spent money like a crack addicted hooker finding a millionaires credit card. The health care bill is costing ton’s of money and even costing thousands of people their jobs. Why else was the waiver program such a hit? Yet that was the best thing for a country who as Mr. Obama has put it “shouldn’t be buying the car”.

Mr. Obama can easily be put in the dictionary as a definition for the word hypocrite.

Obama is the epitome of a leader who says, “Do as I say, not as I do.” The thing is, that is not what makes a good leader. A leader does so by example. I just hope that I’m not the only one that sees the hypocrisy flowing from that man.

And we shouldn’t be trusted?

A police officer in the Seattle Police Department didn’t have his head screwed on tightly.  In his infinite wisdom, the officer left his loaded “assault rifle” on the back of his cruiser and drove away.

It was around 9 p.m. and the car was parked outside the Roosevelt Hotel, near Pine and 7th Avenue, with no police officers in sight, said Gonzales.

In addition, after an officer got back into the patrol car, it was driven away with the rifle still on the trunk.

The Seattle PD has apologized and an investigation is being conducted.

Its amazing how much flak citizens are given over ownership of guns and the police are just given  a slap on the wrist.  I doubt the officer will be punished for his ineptitude. Especially since this is the same department who shot a deaf man in the back.

Quote of the Day–Uncle (06/27/2011)

The police will put on their ninja gear, grab their machine guns, kick your door down, and lob in some flashbang grenades to arrest you for student loan fraud, growing orchids illegally, and for less than 1/4 ounce of weed.

But if you’re an actual dangerous criminal suspected in 19 murders who has 20 guns in the house, they lure you out with a phone call.

Say UncleScale

[I’m most pissed off about the Guerena is that the situation was 100% preventable.  Don’t believe me, then look how they actually deal with violent offenders.  The whole thing is to make you scared into compliance.  The use of the SWAT team has absolutely nothing to do with protecting the police and everything to do with justifying their existence as well as exerting their authority over us.  They get away without so much as a slap on the wrist for murdering innocent people in their own homes.  The whole thing makes me sick.  Remember, the police state is here.

Don’t believe me on the innocent remark, look at the map. –B

View Original Map and Database

Quote of the Day–Tam (06/26/2011)

You know, I’d be happy if they were plain old vanilla literate. I mean, what percentage of today’s high school graduates wouldn’t be able to spell "environmentally literate", even if you spotted them half the vowels?

Tam, Religion in Public Schools

[The most depressing thing about how hilarious that statement is, it’s 100% true.  The intelligence of the American public is constantly being eroded.  Most viciously by the public school systems who create the voters of tomorrow.  Coincidence, I think not. –B]

Friday Gun Porn-06/24/2011

Here’s another R700 from Boomershoot 2010 by Oleg


You thought I forgot it was Friday didn’t you?

Where Great Britain Used to Be

Usually I usually give absolutely jack !@#%ing crap about Great Britain.  My family fought a war to separate us from those ass hats and their movement towards a forced victim populace has killed any remaining respect I have for them.  Huh, what do you mean I hear you ask.  Well lets just look at this shining example of unbelievable behavior from the UK.

Officers arriving at the scene were told that four men in dark clothing, some in balaclavas, had broken in via the back door before being repelled. It is not known whether they were armed.

A search of the area was quickly launched and within minutes police found the dying man lying on a pavement in Hospital Road, Salford.

Compare that to here in the states, where many of us enjoy castle doctrine, along with many other laws that strongly support self-defense.  For instance look at the incident in Ohio recently where a man was attacked by two individuals.  Out numbered and properly fearing for his life he shot one, causing the other to run away.  The police have ruled it a case of self-defense and no charges are being pressed.  If you think however the Brits don’t value the life of criminals over the law abiding look at these excerpts from the same article:

Greater Manchester Police later described the incident as “a tragic set of circumstances” and said they were trying to unravel precisely what happened in and around the Flanigans’ terraced house.

Coupling this with the end quote we reach the root and crux of the problem.

Asked what advice he would give local householders, he replied: “I would tell them to ring the police and to use reasonable force to protect themselves within the legal framework.

From all I can see there is no question reasonable force was used to protect themselves and their property yet they were arrested.  The laws in Great Britain have been twisted to the point where they protect the criminals from the law abiding, not the other way around.  Don’t believe me, look at the advice they give those with garden sheds, and the death of a man who merely tried to break up a fight.

Anyone who attempts to criminalize the law abiding, prevent the law abiding from defending themselves, all in the name of “safety” are nothing but Criminal Occupational Hazard Reduction Organizations.  Great Britain has been twisted so far, the law now attacks the law abiding and keeps the victims from fighting back.