::  Posts  ::  RSS  ::  ◂◂RSS  ::  Contact

Planned Power Outages

October 12th, 2019
preparedness, power  [html]
With the dubiously motivated PG&E blackouts in California there are many stories about how lack of power is a serious problem, especially for people with medical dependencies on electricity. Examples they give include people who:

  • Have severe sleep apnea, and can't safely sleep without a CPAP.

  • Sleep on a mattress that needs continuous electricity to prevent it from deflating.

  • Need to keep their insulin refrigerated.

  • Use a medicine delivery system that requires electricity every four hours to operate.

This outage was dangerous for them and others, but it also seems like a big problem that they're in a position where they need absolutely reliable grid power. Even without politically motivated outages, the grid isn't built to a standard of complete reliability.

There's an awkward valley between "reasonably reliable, but with a major outage every few years in a storm or something" and "completely reliable, and you can trust your life on it" where the system is reliable enough that we stop thinking of it as something that might go away but it's not so reliable that we should.

We can't get California out of this valley by investing to the point that there won't be outages; earthquakes, if nothing else, ensure that. So instead we should plan for outages, and make outages frequent enough that this planning will actually happen. Specifically:

  • Insurance should cover backup power supplies for medical equipment, and they should be issued by default.

  • When there hasn't been an outage in ~1y, there should be a test outage to uncover unknown dependencies.

While this outage was probably not done for good reasons, the problems it has uncovered are ones we need to fix.

Comment via: facebook, lesswrong

Recent posts on blogs I like:

I Gave a Talk About Construction Costs

Two years ago, I gave a talk at NYU about regional rail, and as promised, uploaded slides the next day for discussion. Yesterday I gave another such talk, about construction costs. But here there are two things to upload: the slides, and the data table. I…

via Pedestrian Observations November 20, 2019

Pieces of time

My friend used to have two ‘days’ each day, with a nap between—in the afternoon, he would get up and plan his day with optimism, whatever happened a few hours before washed away. Another friend recently suggested to me thinking … Continue reading →

via Meteuphoric November 11, 2019

Wild animal welfare in Hans Christian Andersen

Continuing the theme of wild animal suffering in children’s lit… Hans Christian Andersen’s stories involve a lot of suffering of both human and animal varieties. “The Ugly Duckling” takes a brief detour from describing the duckling’s repeated social humil…

via The whole sky November 7, 2019

more     (via openring)

More Posts:


  ::  Posts  ::  RSS  ::  ◂◂RSS  ::  Contact