Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Our Power Company: Exploding With Pride

Once more, Indianapolis Power & Light had a wee little explosion in a Downtown transformer vault, this time chasing staffers out of the Statehouse.

This has happened again and again. Y'know, if it was my electric company an' I had, oh, clients like Eli Lilly, the State.gov and bank headquarters as customers there in the Mile Square, I'd be thinkin' about transformer replacement on some basis other than as-they-explode. As it is, it makes me worry about where to park downtown. They've never hurt anyone yet but it's still no fun.

Gee, I wonder where the closest transformer vault to the Skunk Works main campus can be found? We don't so much care; lose power and a big ol' Caterpillar Megawatt genset lurches to life, carrying the entire building. The transfer switches occupy structures the size of storage sheds! Our lights blink and we dance the Reset Tango for those few things not on one UPS or another. The neighbors, though, they're liable to have sweat in the dark as they fish people out of elevators and go home early.

Y'know, if it was you and/or me plus some M-80s or flashbangs creating sound and fury (let alone power outages) downtown, we'd face all manner of inquiry. The power company? Not so much.

Infrastructure: gotta have it.

10 comments:

Tango Juliet said...

Maybe they outta get into the action flick biz (and bring some backup gensets?)

Nathan said...

I dunno. Chasing people out of the Statehouse sounds like a fine idea. Too bad it didn't happen during the session.

Bubblehead Les. said...

I'd say something, but I live <2 miles from the Power Plant and the Homer Simpson Trained, Minimum-Wage paid Newbie Operator who replaced the Experienced Guy who "cost too much" that caused the Largest Blackout in U.S. History a few years back; all 'cause the new CEO decided that trimming trees back from Power Lines was an "unnecessary expense." $20 Billion dollars and 25% of the Country Blacked Out later....BTW, the same Bozo is still running First Energy, and if they have anything to do with Indy's Power, I'd be looking at a good Tri-Fuel Gennie for your place.

Ken said...

Yeah, good old Worst Energy, the De-Luminating Company. When I used to work in Willoughby, OH, we used to lose power a couple times a summer, out of a clear blue sky.

(There's a Bradbury story in there somewhere, I think...or at least a Bradbury pastiche.)

Drang said...

Seattle had problems with folks getting zapped and their pets getting electrocuted while walking down the street. Seems some items weren't as well grounded as they ought to have been...

BGMiller said...

Back-up gens are great.
They had to load test the trio at work last fall as part of a series of environmental impact tests before they upgraded the whole system.

The spark wranglers were rather amused when I wandered out to the 1Mw dummy load they were running with a carving fork taped to a broom handle, a package of buns, and a pan of brats.

Got the brat to 180 degrees in about seven minutes iirc.

BGM

Rabbit said...

Are those the 'old' style transformers packed full of sweet, tasty PCBs like in the good old days, or are they the new eco-friendly transformers cooled with unicorn tears?

Hat Trick said...

Read your headline and thought you were talking about one of their generators blowing up. Transformers are nuthin.

Our city owned utility had a leak in the generator and reached an explosive mixture of hydrogen and air. Blew parts across I-55 and took an entire wall out of the turbine building. They were lucky nobody was on the turbine floor. Nobody was hurt.

JC said...

Nice Cat Genset, Good Cat Genset. Good Kitty, (Skritch behind ears). When needed, it would purr.

Roberta X said...

Goood Cat! We'd had big (for the time) Cummins gensets, a half-Megawatt at the North campus, which I really liked and boy, would they run -- the 500kVA one carried a 125% load for the better part of a day until it shut down. Started right up again after it cooled off, too. But for all of that, the Cat units seem to be even better. Much quieter, too; I always enjoyed the way the old ones sound as if they were going to fly to pieces for the first couple of minutes but it did scare the nervous types.

Hat Trick: No, thank you! IP&L still has the old downtown powerhouse running, tucked in by the baseball field, the football stadium and the Convention center. Pop something there and it'd make a mess.

Rabbit: I dunno. I hope not, since a good transformer fire burns in just the right range of temperatures to burn PCBs into the more nasty stuff (polychlorinated bifurins, mostly) they take the blame for.