Kessil

Pissed off at PG&E

sfsuphysics

BOD
Staff member
Luckily in the city all of the transmission lines are all underground.
They are aren't they? Never thought of those. I know there is that big substation on Geneva & Bayshore, but yeah never thought that you don't see any lines coming out of it towards San Francisco... guess we just have to deal with all the ugly power, cable, phone lines instead.
 

rygh

Webmaster
Staff member
Can they put those high voltage transmission lines underground? I mean neighborhood power sure, but I can't imagine 100+ kV lines being buried. Plus the areas where they probably cause the most problem due to fire (mountainous, remote, heavily wooded) it probably is not very easy nor practical to bury lines there


Well funny story , San Francisco residents actually paid to have utilities moved underground, in fact they still pay to this day with a $1 surcharge on every PG&E bill for SF residents. Well as it turned out it costs a LOT more than they initially thought to bury lines after cleaning up a few neighborhoods PG&E came back with "Yeah it costs too much, we already spent all the money we received for a few decades".... so PG&E continues to collect their $1 surcharge, and tongue in cheek estimates for when they job is going to be completed based on estimates of rate of work being done is 600 years.... and this was like 15 years ago.
The giant cross-state lines can probably stay above ground. They have wide areas with no trees, and they are away from houses.
Technically, anything can be put underground. You just need enough insulation.
Air is not that good of an insulator, but it is cheap.

Anything in SF is expensive....
 

reef89

Supporting Member
They are aren't they? Never thought of those. I know there is that big substation on Geneva & Bayshore, but yeah never thought that you don't see any lines coming out of it towards San Francisco... guess we just have to deal with all the ugly power, cable, phone lines instead.
Yeah the Geneva substation is distributing most of our power that comes over the hill from south San Francisco. One of the main reasons why we have a lot of cables, telephone and power lines on the poles is because there is so much leftover line and pipes from years ago that the city of San Francisco keeps digging over and sometimes we can’t detect our electric and gas lines underground. Have you seen an open trench in downtown or marina it’s like spaghetti.


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rygh

Webmaster
Staff member
@svreef Glad to hear all is well.
@channel - want some interesting reading, check out the concept of digital electricity. Still reliant on grid power but would make routing and power transmission within our homes safer and easier... loosely associated with topic, just though it was cool. #eegeek
Yeah, "Digital Electricity" is cool and kind-of interesting.
But for now, seems mostly marketing. :)

It does have value for "mid power" connected devices.
For devices that use too much power for Power Over Ethernet (POE), but it is expensive to run a full 110V power cable.

But for the house, or big transmission lines, etc, not sure it makes much sense.
 

xcaret

Guest
Seems it will be the new normal for this area and many other parts.
This situation reminds me of the heat waves we experience and then rushing to look for a chiller; we know is gonna happen yet we don’t get ready.
Same with PG&E; it will happen so start thinking into buying a small generator; dual fuel seem to be a good choice. BBQ propane tanks are widely available.

Coming down from Yosemite area, there’s Priest Grade. Power lines from the Hetch Hetchy hydroelectric system can be seen and at the base, a clean path all the way who knows where.
Those transmission lines and the whole hydroelectric power generating system is under the City and Co of San Francisco responsibility.
We just returned from a road trip; Montana, Idaho, Wyoming... I noticed some transmission towers to be in a similar way as in the SFPUC Hetch Hetchy’s system; clear ground.

Driving on some of the San Mateo roads going up/down 280-101, I’ve seen many power lines in extreme need of maintenence, clearing of bushes, tree branches weighing down a pole, poles that might be hanging vertical just because they want to tell us gravity does not apply to them...
I’m sure many residents of the mountainous area of San Mateo Co just don’t realize the danger lurking; maybe the hazard can’t be seen due to so much growth of trees, bushes, grass. Maybe we just got too comfortable and/or assume we’re not in immediate danger as the remote small towns, communities in other mountain regions.

If you are a resident of such areas in higher danger and spot a trouble power line, please, PLEASE call the utility company or your town/city officials to report it and make sure to mention is a FIRE hazard. Utility poles normally have a number or marking of some sort but an aproximate address should be enough for PG&E to send a crew and fix the problem.
If possible, take a picture of the state of the power line/s, hopefully it will be just an image stored and not evidence of negligence...
 

sfsuphysics

BOD
Staff member
Seems it will be the new normal for this area and many other parts.
Yup, you save money by neglecting stuff... then something bad happens and "oh snap what do you mean we're at fault" lawsuits drop, and now everyone pays because they'd rather there be no chance for another lawsuit that almost bankrupts them so they'll just as happily turn power off if it gets "too windy" they probably are saving more money by doing that than spending time to clear out trees and shrubs.

But yeah, that's something I definitely have noticed too, when you see power lines going up hillsides there's a much more clear of cut pathway around them then there ever really has been in the past.
 

reef89

Supporting Member
See the area by 280 San Mateo area most of that is state property. They are supposed to be handling the trimming near our power lines because there is protective species or something like that. I check the gas transmission lines and we have to ask for permission to go on to certain area to inspect and make sure the integrity of pipe is in safe working conditions. And sometimes it take a while for us to get the okay to go and check.


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jccaclimber

Supporting Member
Maybe it's just that I grew up in a different part of the country, but a couple of these hit touchy points with me. Please forgive me in advance for the rant.

1. While I feel for everyone that suffers a livestock loss, or even the stress of the experience, if you can't afford a backup for something then either it isn't critical or you can't afford the item.

Growing up in the north winter electrical outages happen when it snows and a tree collapses, someone drives into an electrical pole, etc. In the summer thunderstorms come through, people still drive into poles, transformers occasionally explode when it's hot out, etc. Point being, power occasionally goes out and you don't even get warning in advance. When it happens in the winter it can cold, FAST. When it happens in the summer it can get rather hot, although not as fast as it gets cold in the winter.

I have an inverter that connects to my car battery (if anyone ever wants to borrow it just PM me). While idling my car overnight isn't ideal, it works. You can get an inverter that will power a return pump via your cigarette lighter for $21 via Amazon. You can get a battery powered air pump, with the airstone and line for <$8 plus batteries the same way.

2. All the other places I lived the electrical utility had right of way to maintain lines. You can ask them not to drive through your flowerbed. If you are nice about it they'll even make a solid effort, but they aren't obligated to humor you. They would come around every so often and trim the trees near the lines. It wasn't pretty, they would typically just top them. If you want it pretty you can do it yourself before it gets to the point that they have to do it, but if you don't they will come and they will make it safe. Maintaining trees and lines isn't rocket science, but you have to allow it to happen.

3. As for the city, county, or state running things, at least locally (I'm in SF) the level of mismanagement and just generally poor work I've seen in local utility/road work makes the mass corruption and related issues where I used to live look mild. I'd hate to give them an even bigger responsibility. I suspect a bit of competition (two utilities) would be good, but I can't picture a second company wanting to be involved here. I live in the city and can't even get really fast internet in my neighborhood because the city and utilities can't reach agreement on putting in utility boxes. On the plus side, I am fortunate enough that the electrical lines are buried where I am.
 

svreef

BOD
Staff member
There’s a difference between accidents and covering your ass from lawsuits.

In either case, it’s always on me to have a backup. There’s no doubt about that.

But, it’s a shameful thing that they’re doing these planned safety shut offs. They spend all their money on bonuses for the top brass instead of fixing the infrastructure problems.
 

sfsuphysics

BOD
Staff member
Maybe it's just that I grew up in a different part of the country,
It is.

1. Any sort of power outages around here used to be an extremely rare occurrence where the only real reason you'd get them is if a tree branch happened to fall on a power line or some other accident, or the rare rolling blackout if temperatures got into the extreme range. And I agree have a backup, although something like an Ecotech battery backup would often be more then adequate, or often things got fixed within a matter of hours so even with no backup you were probably good to go. Now power outages occur if "winds are too high*" with some vague interpretation of what "too high" means. Basically saying in case any bad stuff happens we don't want to be held responsible. But this is really a very new thing, like literally within the past year, so it'll take people time to adjust to it and of course it depends where you live as to how much adjustment must be made, i.e. in San Francisco they likely aren't going to cut power when it's windy just because except for the major parks in the city there really aren't many trees :D

3. Yeah the city can be fickle about what it allows. For the longest time the extent of my internet access was 6 Mbps DSL lines or cable (Comcast) which was quite expensive for what you got, then one day AT&T had their Uverse garbage up and Comcast prices came down, then a bit later AT&T now has gigabit fiber (FTTN I think not FTTH) but Comcast prices came down as well... and oh hey they offer gigabit speed too. So yeah competition is good when a company has competitors. Sorry your internet access is less than stellar :D
 

jccaclimber

Supporting Member
I personally go the Ecotech battery backup route as well, but I hesitate to say that everyone who doesn’t have a $170 battery
(Ok, a $40 battery with a nice box and a charger) and a $370 wave maker is being irresponsible as that’s multiples of what I had in my first reef including livestock. I am willing to say that not having an $8 device on hand is at least poor planning. Some of us will choose nicer and more expensive solutions, but I see that as a bare minimum. I also consider not having the ability to, with zero notice, have or make enough salt water to hold all of your livestock in a bucket, bathtub, pasta pot, whatever, to be poor planning.

At least the internet here is better than in the rental I was in when first moving to SF. For a multitude of electrical wiring issues the landlady declined to fix, the service providers completely refused to connect wired internet so I had to use a satellite provider with the expected very poor latency and generally crummy service.

We had an amusing generational gap moment when I explained that she could cancel the included TV services, but that I would be moving out the next month if there wasn’t some sort of internet service. Admittedly, it was mainly about the Apex being connected when I travelled for work.
 
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