Power outages -- How often in your area?

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FollowspotDude
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Power outages -- How often in your area?

Just curious, how common are power outages in your area?

Florida’s power grid, at least in the areas I find myself in, is pathetic. Depending on where I’m at, I see 2 problems a month up to 3x a week. Outages and voltage problems are frequent, even in clear weather. We also get power irregularities which drive standard UPSs nuts. I’ve resorted to full time double-conversion UPSs to keep the bits and bytes flowing at the office. Overhead vs. underground lines don’t seem to make a difference. Outages can be anywhere from under a minute to 20+ hours, hurricanes excluded. Power company makes some difference. Duke Energy seems to be the worst. FPL is somewhat better but still bad. Some of the small Co-Ops seem to be able to do it right.

I’ve been to some pretty remote locations in the world and have always marveled at how reliable their power grid is compared to Florida’s. Whether the middle of the arctic or middle of a rain forest, somehow other places manage to keep the lights on. I remember being completely shocked that a major company in the arctic had NO backup generators, just a few small UPS on their servers.

raccoon city
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Here, the power is pretty reliable.

The power goes out (for over five minutes) about once or twice a year.

When it does go out for a while, it could be relatively short, or it could be out for as much as a few of hours.

The worst is when it happens when I'm trying to sleep because I use a CPAP machine, so I cannot sleep until the power comes back on.

I don't actually have sleep apnea any more, but I sleep much better with the CPAP machine.  :THUMBS-UP:

Oli
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The Arctic doesn’t have heat, humidity, rain, squirrels, dust, not nearly as much salt in the air, and the lines/ equipment is probably much newer.

CrashOne
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I’ve heard stories about the unreliable power grid in the USA before… One even mentioned that in some areas if one energy supplier fails, it might take down a larger part of the grid due to overloading the other suppliers.

Here in The Netherlands we have a pretty reliable power grid. For as far as I can remember we had one short power outage in the last 5 years in my area. In my country it doesn’t matter who you have as a power company: The network is maintained by a semi governmental company. Everybody can start a power company and provide the power grid with energy. Our power bill consists of (basically) two parts: Energy usage and a fixed part for the network provider (so they can maintain the power grid). By doing this all power companies are just as reliable.

jeff51
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In town it’s very reliable. Usually a squirrel and the transformer fuse are the problem.
It’s amazing how loud a BANG they make if they cross the wire right.
We have a transformer just behind our house. Sounds like a gun going off. It’s happened twice.

Every now and then someone will hit a power pole with a car and knock out a neighborhood for a while.
A few years ago a monster ice storm really messed things up for a while. It was so bad the power Co. couldn’t get their folks out to the locations.

At a ranch we visit, it’s assumed the power will go off anytime there is a thunderstorm, or any other darn thing.
But it’s a’ways form town.
Like no cell coverage, and it’s South of the Border Patrol checkpoint.
Just got the BLF LT1 in this week. Looking forward to our next visit.
Bet money the power will be fine the whole time.
All the Best,
Jeff

MtnDon
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Our power is extremely reliable. Much more reliable than the neighbors. But then our power comes from our own solar panels connected to our own LiFePO4 battery bank whereas the neighbors are on the local power grid with above ground power lines that trees fall on too often. Cash

Of course when the neighbors power fails they can sit back and let somebody else do the repairs. If we have a failure it is all up to me. Our power has failed once since 2005 when the system was installed. In 2012 a lightning strike took out many $$ worth of hardware. I had spares and got power going in a couple of hours, so not too bad, but I was lucky to be home, although I could have done without the accompanying pyrotechnics. Since then the lightning protective gear has been expanded and improved.

sp5it
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Unexpected: 1-2 times a year
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Phlogiston
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The Scottish power grid is fairly robust. It has to be, because we get several storms with high winds every winter and we wouldn’t have any power from October to March otherwise.

This computer’s been running continuously since the middle of March, so that was the last power cut. Two minutes and back on again.

We had a glitchy evening last autumn where we lost power several times for a second or two each time. I gave up, shut everything down and read some of the books I keep downloaded on my tablet. All fine again the next morning.

The last time we had a power cut we could measure in hours was two or three years ago, when we lost power for about two hours one morning. I can’t remember anything worse than 24 hours in my entire life, so that’s across a few decades.

Henk4U2
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The NL powergrid has a lot of redundancy. In domestic areas that is a given fact. In rural areas it may not always be the case. The average user connected to the NL powergrid enjoys a reliability of 99.996%. This can be devided in 1 min/y in the national grid (110kV and up), and 20 min/y in regional grids (0.4-50kV).
Apologies are in order for being a bore, I have worked (too) long as some kind of licenced bean counter in the energy trading business, where a difference of 0.001c/kWh means success or failure.

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Zappaman
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Hartford, KS went down weekly for 8 years. Mostly glitches and short time-frames… this from a company that HAD 450k customers (and now has over a million since a merger last year).

What sucked is I am ONE of the 750 TOTAL Solar PV installs out of those 450k served and my anti-aliasing (protection from my inverters) would shut down for 20 minutes every time it glitched. So I would lose 5-7% of my production some days when it was really bad.

Then, one day a smart guy at the electric company figured it was costing more to fix the same line (that broke all the time) with a new line. Three miles of new cable later and it now only glitches every few months. That’s the problem with living in a small town (pop. 500). Half the town had to bitch until someone finally decided to replace a 30 yr old line (we were paying TOP dollar for those eight years).

Thankfully, our former dumb-ass governor got run out of Topeka (finally!) and the “Corporate Commission” (which USED to serve the public and WAS rightly called the “Public Utilities Commission” back in the day) was reorg’ed and immediately STOPPED allowing Westar to charge demand fees to we solar users. Their former (also dumb-ass) CEO spent more than we cost IN TEN YEARS trying to screw ONLY solar users on rates. We were 750 out of 450k users- do the math Wink

So good ending after so many idiots (local and state) who just really don’t want to move along with technology we should be promoting- daily! IMHO Wink

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bigtrav261
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CrashOne wrote:
I’ve heard stories about the unreliable power grid in the USA before… One even mentioned that in some areas if one energy supplier fails, it might take down a larger part of the grid due to overloading the other suppliers.

Here in The Netherlands we have a pretty reliable power grid. For as far as I can remember we had one short power outage in the last 5 years in my area. In my country it doesn’t matter who you have as a power company: The network is maintained by a semi governmental company. Everybody can start a power company and provide the power grid with energy. Our power bill consists of (basically) two parts: Energy usage and a fixed part for the network provider (so they can maintain the power grid). By doing this all power companies are just as reliable.

You’re probably thinking about the Northeast Blackout of 2003. Basically, due to poor maintenance and negligence, one supplier experienced a series of failures that caused their system to shut down. Since, their computers could not adequately detect and notify them and other systems of the situation, other suppliers lines became overloaded and started tripping out. This led to a cascade of all, or almost all, of the Northeast Grid shutting down.

Outside of this failure, most of the USA and Canada power grid’s reliability is probably on par with what you’re accustomed to in The Netherlands. For example, in North Carolina, most local outages are from trees being downed during a strong storm. Likewise, large outages are typically caused by hurricanes and ice storms. Depending on how many outages occur from a passing storm system, restoration usually takes from a few hours to the next day. Larger events where outside crews are called in, restoration may take a few days; and for some, a few weeks.

Helios azimuth
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Forest fires are the biggest culprit when you live in beautiful wooded country. They can take out miles of poles and wire, but we see more steel poles being placed these days. Storms can cause havoc too, but after the town of Paradise was destroyed when malfunctioning electrical equipment started a forest fire, they have been removing trees near the lines for many, many months (and still are).
So we have been having at least three outages a year, sometimes triple that. Everyone owns either solar or a generator. The worst ones will last for days, but some are just for hours. Still, I will not move back to a city for better power and worse lifestyle. And now we might start having fewer incidents with all the improvements.

patmurris
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Very uncommon over here and when it fails it only lasts minutes.

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Zero outages unless some damnfool knocks over a pole-pig or something, and that was only twice that I can remember.

Got through all those hurricanes like Sandy and… unno, Edgar or wotnahell the other one was. Power, cellphone, innernet, no interruptions at all.

I’ll certainly give credit where it’s due.

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thisnameisvalid
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They’re very rare here, we haven’t had one in quite a few years. Every couple years a portion of our road will loose power due to a localised failure, but the distribution company start digging up the road within an hour of it happening so they never last long.

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I can’t remember the last time power went out. It has been years. Anything built in Las Vegas after around 1980 has underground power lines. We get winds as high as 70 mph occasionally and the only homes affected are older ones with regular power lines mounted on wooden poles.

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Here it is very unusual to have power outages. When it happens, normally is due to some heavier storms, but even then it doesn’t last long!
But that is always a good time to play with flashlights Big Smile Party

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CrashOne
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bigtrav261 wrote:
CrashOne wrote:
I’ve heard stories about the unreliable power grid in the USA before… One even mentioned that in some areas if one energy supplier fails, it might take down a larger part of the grid due to overloading the other suppliers.

Here in The Netherlands we have a pretty reliable power grid. For as far as I can remember we had one short power outage in the last 5 years in my area. In my country it doesn’t matter who you have as a power company: The network is maintained by a semi governmental company. Everybody can start a power company and provide the power grid with energy. Our power bill consists of (basically) two parts: Energy usage and a fixed part for the network provider (so they can maintain the power grid). By doing this all power companies are just as reliable.

You’re probably thinking about the Northeast Blackout of 2003. Basically, due to poor maintenance and negligence, one supplier experienced a series of failures that caused their system to shut down. Since, their computers could not adequately detect and notify them and other systems of the situation, other suppliers lines became overloaded and started tripping out. This led to a cascade of all, or almost all, of the Northeast Grid shutting down.

Outside of this failure, most of the USA and Canada power grid’s reliability is probably on par with what you’re accustomed to in The Netherlands. For example, in North Carolina, most local outages are from trees being downed during a strong storm. Likewise, large outages are typically caused by hurricanes and ice storms. Depending on how many outages occur from a passing storm system, restoration usually takes from a few hours to the next day. Larger events where outside crews are called in, restoration may take a few days; and for some, a few weeks.

2003, now I feel old for remembering this Big Smile

Over here we don’t have (there is only one part left where we still have those; Krimpenerwaard. Total length of 37,5 miles/60 km) above the ground low voltage (<110kV) networks. I think it mainly has to do with us being a small country with a large population density. So there are nog outages because of poles being downed Smile

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Where I’m at here in FL, our Co-Op does a decent job. Power has only had prolonged outages from hurricane hits. Irma took us out for 10 days, which was the only significant interruption.
I do have a really sensitive re-closer in my network close by that seems to trip just about lightning strike, and knocks us out for 5 minutes, 8-10 times a storm. But I have all the pertinent necessities on UPS systems, along with whole house surge protection.

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Tony Cape
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When demand for power is high they switch us off 2-4 times a day for between 2-4 hours at a time. Thanks to the Covid 19 crisis it seems power demand is lower than normal at the moment.We have not had any outages since the beginning of lockdown.

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Midwestern Brazil, Pantanal region. Haven’t seen a blackout in over two years, at least not at home. The grid of the university I work at is complete trash and constantly browns out or has voltage dips that make lights flicker (so much so they constantly burn out, CFL bulbs barely last weeks so they switched to LED) and computers reboot, though proper power outages that last for more than 5 minutes are also rare.

Scallywag
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Power reliability here is pretty good. No issues in my neighborhood since I bought the house in September. 2013-2016 I lived in an older neighborhood (homes from 190x) with overhead lines, and it was worse. 2016-2019 I recall two outages, both for only a few hours, and the result of some sort of random crap like a tree falling or a car crash or something.

They do pretty well considering the range of weather. It can reach mid-90s (35C) in the summer and as low as -2 (roughly -19C) in winter, and storms with high winds in between.

In general, though, a lot of this country’s infrastructure is aging and not getting the upkeep it needs. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” should not be the strategy for infrastructure maintenance… But everyone wants lower taxes, so here we are.

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gravelmonkey
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Can’t remember the last power cut we had, maybe 6 or 7 years ago, for maybe an hour?

Our electric costs 16.1p/kwh ($0.20), I wonder how cost and reliability correlate around the world…?

Helios azimuth
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Helios azimuth wrote:
Forest fires are the biggest culprit when you live in beautiful wooded country. They can take out miles of poles and wire, but we see more steel poles being placed these days…. And now we might start having fewer incidents with all the improvements.

Just got a notice that power will be cut all day for pole replacement. A steel transmission pole has been laying by the side of the road a few miles downhill from us, so that might be the one. But a neighbor’s notice read one day difference, so it might be two days?? In the city they used to set the new pole and “hot-stick” onto it, but up here there is a greater potential for destruction (forest fire) I suppose. Or maybe they stopped hot-sticking because they drop the lines too frequently, I saw it happen once and it caught a building on fire. Dangerous stuff. If it goes into the late evening my LT1 has charged batteries!
Bob_McBob
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In southern Ontario, the only extended power outage I’ve lived through was the 2003 blackout. Aside from that, maybe a few hours once or twice for idiots hitting distribution infrastructure. My mum lives in a more rural area and has lost power for days at a time due to weather taking down power lines.

wle
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it;s pretty reliable
atlanta area
not sure what you can really learn from a survey like this

i feel like my answer is not what you want to hear Smile

wle

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Oregon: 2 locations

Portland – very rare we ever lose power. Last time was perhaps 6 months back, a car took out a pole at 2 AM. The previous time may have been a winter storm 6 months previous.

Coast -small village – we go down on weekends and approx 85% of the times I start the day by resetting all of the LED clocks. The clocks on the range, the music player, microwave are all blinking and off. The timers are all off as well. Clearly power went out during the week, can’t say how often. It would be a rare month where the power had not gone out more than once but I confess I have not tracked it.

jeff51
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As luck would have it, we had just a little wink last night.
Half a second at most. Just enough to make all the UPSs light up and chirp.

The best present you can buy for a desktop computer is a UPS.
All the Best,
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wle wrote:
not sure what you can really learn from a survey like this

I'm getting quite a bit out of it by seeing the variety of answers, especially when combined with people's locations. It's a nice reminder to myself that I'm not crazy -- power reliability in Florida is pretty poor compared to other regions and that the precautions/planning I do as standard in Florida is complete overkill for projects we have in other areas. The concept of going a month without a power problem, let alone 2 years, is mind-blowing to me.

 

I've seen some people mention cost of electricity vs. reliability. The US cost per kWh run $0.083/kWh to $0.373/kWh. Florida averages about $0.12/kWh. There's plenty of extra fees and taxes on top of that. Using Florida as a guide, there's NO correlation between the cost of electric service and reliability. Duke Energy is one of the most expensive energy companies in Florida and has some of the worst reliability, bar none. Almost all self-inflicted, like when they decided to stop trimming trees for a couple of years to save money. Florida Power & Light (FPL) has a well-documented history of neglecting their grid, with 50-75 year old wooden power poles decaying around the state. To FPL's credit, they have been making decent progress on replacing and upgrading their grid over the past 10 or so years. Still a long way to go.

 

As far as non-profit/municipal owned vs. investor-owned, I definitely see better reliability with the municipal-owned/co-op services over investor-owned ones, at least for day-to-day. When it comes to hurricanes and recovery from them, the investor-owned ones seem to be up quicker, minus Duke.

Interestingly, hurricanes have been very good at improving long-term reliability here. As each hurricane takes out more neglected grid, the replacement grid is better and stronger, and the temporary linemen on loan to us from across the country do an amazing job of making sure things are done right the first time.

wle
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well
every utility has its own costs and problems
i would not guess that the price/kwh has much to do with reliability

i mean it does, but there are at least 25 other factors that influence it
rates
corruption
cost of the generation
density of population

wle

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