1) re: Happiness. Good point. I'd still rather live in the USA. Not sure of, for example, European performance. Jury is out, to me. You say "pretty good" ... against what? Consider the wealth extracted in terms of utilities' stock mkt gains and dividends, our unexploited tech. leadership & capabilities and *hidden* lack of investment leading to a condition where the effects *are yet* to be seen. Then come back with your 2nd assessment. A true balance sheet to include all liabilities would show, I believe, an absolutely criminal incompetence & lack of quality. Why? Wrong incentives.
2) re: Increased competition. I think you mean that would cause corner cutting and even worse outcomes to some extent. Right. That's why you'd have a level of regulation forbidding specific practices *and* deterministic bad outcomes (to subvert the schemers), promulgated by the indep. experts, together with some true market based competition. Have penalties like those for Brazil banks: principals have their personal wealth and freedom at risk. Guess what? I believe you'd see a difference. Nothing like skin in the game.
Yes, I am happy, relatively speaking. In my 50-odd years here in America the power has been pretty good. The utility strategy and tactics we've tangled with over the last half century were not perfect and we SHOULD expect better. Our forbears were not idiots nor were their investors, albeit it some were, and others naive.
Your group's technical achievement is impressive and laudable. It's a shame that the "best and the brightest" at higher levels were unable to overcome their risk aversion and return-on-investment mindsets in time to mitigate an inevitable disaster.
It is likely that significantly increased competition in the power market had/has other "sub-optimal" consequences none of us could/can forsee.
@nanonical--thanks for your insight and commentary. Unfortunately, I know how mis-management at a utility---I live on Long Island in NY---we have LIPA---just ask Governor Cuomo or any of us rate-payers about their management.
Correction: it was't caused by a software bug. Rather, something alot more important. But the fish in the sea doesn't know it's a water world. So...
In 1984 I worked at AEP in NYC, in a small group developing hardware & software infrastructure for achieving realtime monitoring of, and ultimately controlled recovery from, faults wherever they occur. It was ground-breaking, developing DSP based metrics using symmetrical-components modeling of the 3-phase system. We had a working scaled down physical model of a grid in a large room, complete with reconfigurability, to provide a test bed for the detection, monitoring and recovery part under development. It was at a stage where the remote monitoring minicomputers in the field were accurately reporting fault types and locations as they actually occurred, along with simulated reaction commands.
What happened? Nearest I can tell, politics and lack of leadership by higher ups, above the actual project level. What amazes me is that these events happen and nobody realizes that our vulnerability to them is a product of above-mentioned myopia at the highest corporate levels, where only the status quo & bottom line matters. Such a new system as was in development would require rethinking and new products displacing old ones, as well. This is obvious existence-proof that it's been an industry without sufficient competition or pressures for innovation driving it. It's the Microsoft syndrome.
Well, folks, we got what we paid the utilities all those years for. Happy now?
@Steve....the silly thing is I used to work for the precursor of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (years before this happened). I ran a small design lab producing test gear, indicators etc. One of my projects was a Synthesised signal generator which supplied 240VAC at 45-55 Hz, selectable on thumbwheels in 0.1 HZ steps. It was for testing under-and over-frequency relays which (I was told) were to trip a feeder if the frequency went out of spec. Guess they didn't work any more, or something.....
@David Ashton---the fluorescent light blinking slower and slower is a reason Genscape has their frequency monitoring sensor. That is an early indication that something is happening bad on the grid----the 50 or 60 Hz usually has a drastic drop in frequency for a very short time when a sub-station or another power node goes off line
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