Editor's Note: This email is in response to the blog by Ray Lutz.
Ray's theory is that the Arizona line was up, but not stable. And that instability worked its way into the rest of the system. While Ray’s theory may be fact, I did not see any power fluctuations here, even on a recording instrument. The power just abruptly dropped off line.
Another scenario is that the load could not be supported without the Arizona line, and when it went down, San Onofre and other remaining power sources could not support the large load, so these remaining sources shut down.
If the remaining power sources were able to supply the load, the outage would not have occurred. Maybe we should not allow the connected load to exceed the connected capacity minus the power provided by the largest connected power source. (ML-1)
There are some solutions to consider:
1. As the load approaches ML-1, start shedding loads. If this is not sufficient, start rolling blackouts.
2. Permanently add enough capacity so the load cannot reach ML-1.
3. Permanently reduce the load so ML-1 cannot be reached.
Solution 1 is not popular, but is less objectionable than a massive 12-hour blackout. The utility has peaking stations and backup power plants that can be started and connected when the load approaches M-1, and that would have helped.
Solar is a good way to permanently add capacity to the grid. These peak power demands always occur when it is hot and sunny, and sunny means solar panels are putting power into the grid. As long as the grid is up! And large solar arrays, like those planned for the Sunrise Power Link, may be designed to lead a load, acting as an independent power source. In my scenario, the Sunrise Power Link may have been large enough to prevent the blackout.
Additional energy conservation measures will reduce load. Many already have energy conserving features in their home and workplace. And technology keeps finding more ways to save.
Power utilities business is profitably selling power. Regulation and image help them focus on the cost and quality of their service. Before this happened, all lines were loaded, the high cost to operate peaking plants were off, and there was no reserve. This is an ideal situation for selling power at the best margin. Maybe regulation and image could help them focus more on the quality of service.
Finally, we have to look at growth. It seems we allow growth before supporting infrastructure is in place.