Friday, September 9, 2011

I love a mystery...

... but I am puzzled and confused about what happened down in Southern California yesterday.

As near as I can make out, this is what we think occurred:

  • A utility worker near Yuma, AZ was replacing a capacitor, and there was a malfunction of some sort
  • In response to resulting conditions on the line, a major transmission link between the Colorado River power systems along the AZ/CA border and the San Diego area detected irregularities, and was shut down
  • Some sort of secondary problem developed, which caused the gigantic San Onofre nuclear plant to experience a power cut (Yes, the power plant lost power! Huh!)
  • Available power existed, but could not be delivered, from Arizona, to California, due to the transmission link being down.
  • San Onofre operators decided that the safe thing to do was to initiate a system shutdown. This deprived, oh, 5 million people of electricity.
  • Some sort of higher-level desparation cut-off stopped the cascading shutdown before it hit L.A. Or 20 million more people would have been affected.
  • The lines were checked, the system was reset, San Onofre went through its (multi-hour?) re-boot
  • 18 hours later, "the system" was back online.

I spend a lot of my time studying and thinking about failures. From what I can tell, there is a lot to study and learn about here.

Any good pointers to send me? Drop me a line, and let me know!

1 comment:

  1. I read if a power plant looses external power it has to fire its own back up diesel generators immediately (it takes tens of seconds).

    The reason must be that should it
    - have to stop for whatever reason
    - and should the backup generators fail
    you get what happened in Fukushima