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Where The Darkness Hides

13 September 2008 : Most of Houston metro area without power; gas prices rise : Most of the Houston metropolitan area is without power because of damage associated with Hurricane Ike. CenterPoint Energy says it could take more than a month to restore electric service to its customers, according to USA TODAY's Donna Leinwand, who reports that 2.1 million of 2.26 million households are in the dark right now. "We may have to revise that,'' Floyd LeBlanc, a company spokesman, tells Bloomberg News. "We have gotten literally thousands of calls from customers reporting downed power lines." The Houston Chronicle says the Texas-New Mexico Power Co. is completely offline. As of noon, the Energy Department says, nearly 219,000 customers were without electricity in Louisiana. Ike is also making it more expensive for storm victims to run generators and, when they get the all-clear, return home. AAA says the price of a gallon of gasoline in Houston has increased by about 5 cents since yesterday. Shell says fuel supplies at its retail outlets in the state are "adequate."

13 September 2008 : Powerless: More than 99 percent of region in the dark : By LYNN COOK and KRISTEN HAYS Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle : Sept. 13, 2008, 1:05PM : Daybreak today in Hurricane Ike's wake only revealed what Houston area power providers already knew — the lights are out for roughly 5 million people, and getting the juice flowing again will be a painstaking process that could take weeks. Virtually all electricity customers of both CenterPoint Energy and Entergy Texas are without power today at noon. The Texas-New Mexico Power Co., which services communities south of town, from Alvin to West Columbia, is 100 percent offline. "We sustained a massive hit," said CenterPoint Energy spokesman Floyd LeBlanc, noting that 2.1 million customers out of 2.26 million are without power. A CenterPoint customer is not neccessarily one person. For example, one family househould frequently has more. "We're realizing there's a lot of property damage. Trees hit power lines, some fell on houses, buildings and cars. This storm did a lot of damage," he said. Service trucks have already started to roll into neighborhoods across Houston now that winds have finally subsided and damage assessors are walking the power lines to check for breaks, according to CenterPoint spokesman Floyd LeBlanc. But, so far, CenterPoint has not been giving permission to fly its helicopters over the area to assess damage. "The Federal Aviation Administration said immediately after the hurricane only medical transport would be allowed in the area but we are pressing them. We would like to get up and take advantage of this daylight," he said. Despite the lack of aerial videos and photographs, CenterPoint does know that roughly 30 percent of its transmission system in the metro area sustained serious damage. The transmission system is more than mere poles and wires. It is the network of tall metal towers in grassy rights-of-way that bundle electricity and deliver it to neighborhood substations.

2 September 2008 : Iran's lights are going out : The country believed to have the world's third-largest oil reserves is in the grip of power cuts – a result of bad planning and corruption : M Cist, guardian.co.uk, Tuesday September 02 2008 : The cities of Iran are in darkness. For two hours at a time, from the Gulf to the Caspian, the country believed to have the world's third largest oil reserves doesn't have the electricity to power homes, traffic lights, hospitals and the rest of civic life. There are reports of deaths in hospitals in Tehran's swankiest neighbourhoods, the traffic in Isfahan, Shiraz and the capital grinds to a halt as traffic signals cease and in smaller towns there are angry demonstrations. The energy ministry's decision to publish "blackout timetables" hasn't helped things and the official statistics – a 32,000 mW grid can't satisfy 34,000 mW needs – don't wash. The lights are out in Bandar Abbas on Iran's southern coast, in Sistan-Baluchestan towards Afghanistan and Mazandaran towards Turkmenistan. A deputy energy minister, Professor Mohammad Ahmadian has been replaced but resignations over the issue are less to do with competence than President Ahmadinejad juggling positions in his favour, ahead of next year's presidential elections. Perhaps Ahmadian paid the price of raising the spectre of a five-fold increase in electricity prices. The free marketeers in the government who see a bright future in membership of the World Trade Organisation call for the government subsidy for domestic electricity to be slashed. The middle classes who quietly bear the irritation of two-hour queues to fill up their cars at petrol stations occasionally rise up. At much-publicised recitals of Persian music in Tehran, the lights went out just as renowned world music star, Homayoun Shajarian, got on stage. After thousands of people clapped in the darkness, singing the "old" pre-revolution national anthem (even women's voices could be heard and women are not allowed to sing in public), the star's more famous father, Mohammad Reza Shajarian got on stage and denounced the government. He said the interior ministry was deliberately trying to stop Iranians from listening to the music of their country. Visibly angry, the audience's mood was less anticipation of complex, jazz-like permutations of Dastgahs on Dafs, Tars, Tombaks, Setars, Kamanchehs, Neys, Tanburs, Santurs, and Uds and more on political change. It was the same at the concert of Iranian Kurd Shahram Nazeri, incongruously held at one of the Shah's old palaces and where the VIPs were police. The lights didn't go out but there was chaos after the traffic lights of Tehran, sophisticated ones that tell drivers how long they have to wait before they change, all dimmed. It was bad enough in the cold winter when power cuts plagued 11 provinces and the National Iranian Gas Company warned Iranians to moderate their consumption or face further cuts. Ironically, the more environmentally-sound sources of energy - hydroelectric plants - are causing some of the worst power cuts. The reasons for the power cuts are endemic bad planning by a corrupt elite as well as members of that elite siphoning off oil for export. Those profits end up overseas with the trickle-down in Iran reaching North Tehran BMW-dealerships and bootleggers. Without electricity, the economy continues to self-destruct. In the scorching heat, offices cannot operate without air-conditioners and the little manufacturing done in Iran is threatened with even more disasters. Making deals with China necessitated the opening up of the Iranian market to cheap Chinese goods so at this rate the little of it done at home will be destroyed. Official inflation is near 30% and only the continued subsidy for food allows many to live. Iran may look richer than every other avowedly Muslim country on earth but it is teetering on the brink. The only chink of light for the millionaire Mullahs is in what President Vladimir Putin said, that South Ossetia so brutally bombed by Georgians backed by Washington and Tel Aviv, 500 miles north of Tehran, is a prelude to a U.S. attack on Iran to rig the U.S. presidential elections. Nothing will unify Iranians behind their government like a foreign attack, regardless of the hangings and worsening kleptocracy.

24 August 2008 : Dominicans fume over blackouts : Power outages lasting as long as 18 hours are causing major disruptions and angering residents of the Dominican Republic. Posted on Sun, Aug. 24, 2008 : Special to The Miami Herald : Martin Vasquez Reyes' welding shop has been almost paralyzed by the frequent and long blackouts in the Dominican Republic. He is forced to work at odd hours, whenever the lights happen to come back on. Gloom has descended over this Caribbean nation as Dominicans endure blackouts with such frequency and duration that tempers are flaring and the economy is foundering. With blackouts lasting as long as 18 hours in some areas, angry residents have taken to blocking streets with burning tires and stones in protest, and police have respondent with tear gas that have even hit homes. Authorities blame the blackouts on maintenance problems while residents blame the electric companies and government for inefficiency. ''This is giving us a real beating,'' said Samuel Abreu, who lives in East Santo Domingo. The electric sector has always suffered from poor maintenance, internal inefficiencies and a lack of operating funds due to negligent bill collection and illegal tapping of electric lines. But the oil crisis has aggravated the problem: Daily blackouts can now last between 12 to 18 hours, causing disruptions across the nation. In Maimón, nestled in the hills of the central Cibao region, residents last month tried to burn down the electric company offices after 20 days of 18-hour outages. The province of Monseñor Nouel has been one of the hardest hit by the blackouts, which have unleashed myriad difficulties. Food has spoiled, stores and workshops are paralyzed and nerves are raw from sleepless nights of suffocating heat and concern about thieves operating in the dark. Adalgiza Almonte, who owns a small bar, complained that beers aren't selling. ''Everything is warm, there's never any electricity and people just aren't buying,'' said Almonte, 28. Last month, residents of San Francisco de Macorís were terrorized by a gang of 20 youths who went about on scooters attacking everyone they encountered, grabbing cellphones and cash at gunpoint. The government sent in the army to restore order. Rhadamés Segura, vice president of the governmental body that regulates the electric companies, insists that the blackouts are the result of maintenance problems and that the generators are supplying 85 percent of normal demand. Most resorts and popular tourist destinations in places such as Punta Cana in the east coast and Puerto Plata in the north are not affected by the blackouts because they have their own generators or purchase energy from privately owned electric companies. Blackout victims don't believe government claims that 85 percent of demand is being supplied and suspect some of that energy is instead being sold to tourist establishments. Meanwhile, the entire economy is suffering. Schools, including the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, have virtually ground to a halt. It costs more to fertilize farmlands and feed cattle. And small enterprises have no power and cannot function, while the bigger ones must provide their own power and thus watch their profits sucked up by the cost of generators. While salaries are much lower than those in the States, the family food bill is approaching U.S. levels, gas sells for almost $6 a gallon and more people are forced to consider taking extra measures to ensure their security. Martín Vásquez Reyes, who owns a welding shop in the small Cibao village of Sonador, has adapted his routine as best he can, working late at night when the lights are on and filling in at a nearby cattle farm. Vásquez now cannot pay his employees, cover the higher cost of materials or pay the monthly electric bills of more than 1,000 pesos, about $30. And he has to feed a family of five. They skip breakfast, save up for the all-important midday meal and eat a bit of bread and juice for supper. ''There's no food,'' he said.

13 August 2008 : Five years after blackout, promises made to conserve energy mostly forgotten Canadian Press Article online since August 13rd 2008 : TORONTO - Five years ago Thursday, some 50 million North Americans suddenly lost their power and briefly learned to live without light, television and all the other energy-sucking conveniences that have become staples of modern life. Surprisingly, a great many found they loved living in the dark and vowed to change their lifestyles by unplugging more often - voluntarily - and doing their part to help protect the environment. But experts say most of the good intentions born in backyards under starlight on Aug. 14, 2003, faded away before long, and the returning cacophony of air conditioners humming betrayed those promises at first opportunity. The blackout began when a transmission line in Ohio failed, causing a domino effect that resulted in power outages in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and Ontario. It took four days for power to be restored in the U.S., while brownouts and rolling blackouts continued for more than a week in Ontario. For at least a week, the public was urged to conserve power as much as it could and happily complied, just as it did when confronted with a myriad of roadblocks and inconveniences the day of the blackout. Lawyer Peter Carayiannis still finds it hard to believe that frustrated drivers stuck in gridlock immediately followed his orders without question when he stepped into the middle of a busy downtown Toronto intersection to play traffic cop. "I sort of remember looking at it and thinking, 'Someone's got to do something about this,"' he recalled of the beginning of his blackout experience, which would last about four hours until he was finally relieved from duty. "To my complete surprise and shock, people were obeying my traffic signals." Carayiannis said there was a unique sense of camaraderie that day that saw people put their typically selfish actions aside and work together to make the best of the situation. "There were all kinds of impromptu block parties that happened all over the city, restaurants did their best to accommodate their customers, when something like a blackout occurs, people generally are going to pitch together and help out everyone else - it sounds kind of hokey, but it's the truth," he said. But Carayiannis, who does work with renewable energy issues, said he doesn't think many people kept their promises to consume less power and lessons about conservation are only now starting to resonate, five years later, for entirely different reasons. "The price of gasoline in the last year has had a bigger impact on people's thoughts about conservation than the blackout," he said. Canadians are now in the midst of a burgeoning environmental movement, but the blackout of 2003 represented a bit of a false start in the public's determination to go green through energy conservation, said Jeff Walker, senior vice-president of public affairs for the pollster Harris-Decima. "We never found in much of the research we had done that there was a direct connection between the big blackout and issues around using too much or too little energy," said Walker. The devastation of hurricane Katrina and Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth" had a much larger impact in pushing the public to consider how they could slow climate change, he said. Conservation efforts have grown over the last five years but there's little to link the trend to the blackout, agreed Kim Warren, director of planning and assessments for Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator. "I think people are creatures of habit to some degree ... and I don't think there's any lingering effects in reduced consumption from the blackout," he said, although he noted that consumers have indicated a willingness to power down when needed. "The individual customers out there I believe want to help." But some insist the blackout was the true catalyst that awoke the public to how wasteful their lives had become. The spirit of the random street parties the night of the blackout still lives on among a group of people in Mississauga, Ont., who launched blackoutday.ca to help organize anniversary parties. They have also recruited about three dozen Ontario municipalities that have pledged to conserve power on Thursday. Spokeswoman Sheryl Saint recalls her blackout experience as "so awesome" and said it marked the beginning of several good friendships with neighbours, whom she previously only acknowledged with a nod or wave. It was also the start of a commitment by several on the street to adopt a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, she said. "To me it was the blackout day that got me thinking more and more about the environment and everything I've been doing, it was just amazing how much we could get done without electricity and we actually enjoyed having no power," Saint said. "There were a few things that would've been nice - like having the hot water tank working - but for everything else, we became creative, we started having fondue." Saint's sister Caroline Reilly, who also works on the website, urged individuals to do their part - no matter how small - which could convince others to do the same. "It can be contagious, if you know one person doing something then another is more likely to start doing it as well and so it creates a chain reaction," Reilly said. "(Environmental) problems have been ongoing for a very long time but now I'm seeing that people are taking it seriously, and I think it's only going to increase, probably exponentially, over the next little while."

28 August 2008 : Brown energy and blackouts in the Balkans : By Andrew Gardner 28.08.2008 : Insufficient investment in energy infrastructure is leaving the western Balkans in the dark Energy consumption in the Balkans has risen only modestly since European communism was consigned to history. For years, war and its aftermath curbed both supply and demand, and economic troubles depressed industries' needs.

4 September 2008 : Lights After Indonesian Blackout : Indonesian doctors were forced to operate three patients without electricity after a sudden power outage, relatives said Thursday. Surgeries without lights after Indonesian blackout : Staff : Indonesian doctors were forced to operate three patients without electricity after a sudden power outage, relatives said Thursday. The abdominal, orthopedic and ear-nose-throat surgeries were conducted Wednesday for an hour without pumps or lights, horrifying waiting family members. The generator at the Labuang Baji hospital in Makassar on Sulawesi island had been broken for more than a year and a replacement had not yet arrived, said spokeswoman Sri Fausyia. Family members wept in fear when the power failed, but the patients survived the ordeal, relatives said. Sahara Daeng Sunggu, 45, was undergoing reconstructive surgery for chronic hemorrhoids when the electricity went out, panicking the family, said Ismi, a relative who goes by one name. "We were very worried, the power went out for more than an hour and we didn't know how she was doing in there," he said. State-owned electricity monopolist PLN blamed the hospital for not having a back up generator, company spokesman Yamin Loleh said. Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest economy of 235 million people, is struggling to meet growing energy needs. With insufficient electricity supplies, rolling blackouts have become routine in some areas. Domestic coal is mostly exported to India and China for greater profit, causing shortages at home.

15 September 2008 : Not another blackout, Minister! Friday, 15 September 2006, 8:42 am Press Release: New Zealand National Party : Not another blackout, Minister! : Energy Minister David Parker must explain why New Zealand today experienced its third major blackout in as many months, says National Party Energy spokesman Nick Smith. "It is simply not acceptable that 120,000 people in Nelson, Marlborough, North Canterbury and Buller are without power tonight, following a blackout at 4.35 this afternoon due to the failure of all three circuits north of Christchurch. "The explanation that it was caused by Transfield maintenance staff at Islington shows things are seriously amiss in Transpower's maintenance systems." The failure in Auckland, affecting 800,000 people in June, was attributed to inadequate inspection and maintenance of wires at Otahuhu. Dr Smith says today's blackout shows Transpower's maintenance systems are not working. "The costs of this blackout will run into the millions. Fish, timber and fruit processing are completely disrupted by this sort of outage, as well as the obvious inconvenience to homes and small businesses. "The repeated major failures make our infrastructure look Third World. It is time for Mr Parker to admit Labour's electricity reforms are failing."

22 August 2008 : BLACKOUT PLUS 5 YEARS: BETTER GRID, NEW VISION : 5 years ago, August 14, 2003, the lights went out in much of the northeast quadrant of North America. Why? Some FirstEnergy transmission lines in Ohio came too close to trees and automatically shut down. The lines' electricity was rerouted to lines that overloaded and went out. A FirstEnergy computer glitch prevented the company from finding and fixing the problem. Out of balance power plants and high-voltage lines caused generators and lines across eight states to shut down. Congress enacted remedies. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) got new authority to set standards like a requirement for utilities to trim trees near power lines and a requirement that utilities' operators be trained and certified. The North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) was given the authority to fine companies up to $1 million per day per violation. The bad news: Demands on the grid are vastly greater than they were 5 years ago and the demands will grow. The good news: There have been improvements. Regional grid operators and utilities invested heavily in enhanced computer system capacities. FirstEnergy alone spent $20 million on updating. Utilities can now monitor changes in power flow more closely. Their systems recognize potential failures, evaluate them and adjust power flows to prevent outages. The better news: The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) foresaw the urgent need to modernize the grid in preparation for adding gigawatts of New Energy to the U.S. energy mix. AWEA commissioned American Electric Power (AEP) to do the "AEP Transmission Vision," a map showing how to get fron the grid now to the grid that must be: 19,000 miles of 765-kilovolt (kV) power lines at a cost of $60 billion. The problem: Building new transmission incurs Not-In-My-BackYard objections (NIMBY-ism). It eventually requires the exercise of eminent domain to obtain pathways for the wires. And that generates further popular opposition. Transmission builders are working hard to create solutions. The fate of the U.S. electricity supply hangs in the balance. Who will next be in the dark (and is the light they need in their own backyard)? 765 kV wire cuts transmission loss from 10% to 1%. The utilities call it "the next superhighway."

5 September 2008 : Global Warming : U.S. on verge of grand-scale blackout : It is critically important that the West re-focus on the fundamental issue here: we have a long way to go to catch up on our backbone electricity infrastructure, and a shrinking window in which to get there. Failure is simply not an option. People lose their lives when the lights go out. At the Western Business Roundtable, we have long championed the need to stay focused on encouraging rapid and aggressive investments in transmission system upgrades -- upgrades that don't favor any particular resource or politically-connected energy developer, but which are an absolute technical necessity to support the reliability of the grid and allow it to meet the growing demands being placed upon it. Contrast this with what one sees playing out in political arenas across the West: Activist groups are working to slow or stop the completion of the two main multi-year, stakeholder-based transmission corridor processes that both Democrats and Republicans in Congress approved as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005; Activist groups are working to slow or stop completion of public lands infrastructure corridors that both Democrats and Republicans in Congress approved in 2005; Activist groups are suing to block the construction of virtually every single baseload coal-fired power plant, in spite of advanced environmental technologies these plants would deploy; Activist groups are threatening to begin suing to block the construction of natural gas-fired power plants; Activist groups continue to block expansion of new baseload hydropower facilities in the West; Activist groups are gearing up to block construction of any baseload nuclear power plants across the West; Activist groups are pressuring government leaders to limit access by larger, baseload technologies to the region's high-voltage transmission grid and instead to artificially favor non-baseload, intermittent power facilities that will (at some point) further stress the reliability of the entire Western grid; Activist groups, and their supporters in Congress, are pushing for a massive expansion of federal wilderness and other restrictive public land designations that would severely limit the ability to plan and implement the large-scale transmission necessary to support the Western grid; Activist groups, with the support of many in Congress, are seeking to reinstate the Clinton-era roadless rule, which will further limit access to public lands for key energy infrastructure development; and Activist groups are pushing for additional endangered species designations, which will make siting and construction of both power plants and transmission lines extraordinarily difficult

8 August 2008 : Blackout Day! What if we could rally everyone to turn their lights off for a whole day?! It would be fun and would save so much CO2! Use things like flashlights, candles, etc. Maybe turn it into a neighborhood sleepover...in the dark! Face it: if people lived like that for thousands of years, why can't we spare one day without electric lights? (Sry, I posted something earlier like this...Ignore the other one) Great one!
Discuss Blackout Day! : Back in June of 2006 we had a major flood in my town, because of this flood we were without power for two weeks. What I found amazing wasn't that we found that we could survive without the power (having email with drawl not withstanding), but how quiet a town of 4000+ people could get. And something strange happened…. people had conversations with their neighbors! Not the normal chitchat and weather ones but real in-depth conversations.

6 September 2008 : Blackout traps Adelaide Show thrillseekers on rides : By Doug Robertson and Jill Pengelley | September 06, 2008 : Blackout hits Royal Adelaide Show : Chaos as people trapped on rides : No injuries reported : Trapped ... showgoers were trapped on rides, including the ferris wheel, during a blackout on the opening night of the Royal Adelaide Show. A BLACKOUT plunged the Royal Adelaide Show into darkness for almost half an hour, leaving frightened showgoers trapped on rides and causing chaos on the Show's opening night. The power supply failed across the showground at 7.45pm, with only the Jubilee and Goyder pavilions, on Goodwood Rd, remaining lit. State Emergency Service crews had just begun evacuating main arena stands while ferris wheel operators were retrieving people from carriages when the power was restored at about 8.10pm. Terry Nicholas, 15, of Ascot Park, said he was on the Space Roller ride when it stopped suddenly. "I wasn't too worried but there were some girls and young kids who were crying and screaming," he said. "They slowly got us down. I was pretty high in the air." Showgoers said sideshow alley was in total darkness with the exception of the ghost train, which has its own generator. It cornered the market on rides for the duration of the 25-minute blackout. Show marketing manager Michelle Hocking said she could not comment on reports that people who left the showground because of the blackout were refused re-entry by security staff. She said refunds would be considered on a case-by-case basis, but they were "highly unlikely" because the blackout had lasted less than half an hour. "It was very orderly. It was only a partial blackout," she said. "Everyone was very calm and we had emergency services and show staff standing by." She said the blackout was a "first" and that staff had got the night's schedule, including fireworks, back on track. "Most people have stayed on and the program has continued on as scheduled," she said. The showground's electricity supply had two incoming circuit breakers. "One of them tripped which is probably a good thing," Ms Hocking said. "ETSA are looking into it and we won't know the cause until they do a report." Sideshow alley ticket seller Terry Jones said patrons were "pretty calm". "We got most of the people off before the lights went out," he said. Deb Scory, of Whyalla, said people aboard the Speed ride were suspended high in the air from its extended arm. After the lights and power failed, the ride completed two full rotations in the dark, prompting screams from those on board. Showgoer Debbie Greenfield said she had to leave early with her family. "We were told that people were stuck upside down on some of the rides," she said. "We were in the main arena and we just thought we'd get out of here before there's a panic." There had been no reports of injuries. About 15 minutes behind schedule, the massed pipe band entered the main arena to thunderous cheers. The audience could catch only glimpses of the band as it marched across the beams of a vehicle's headlights. The fireworks display went ahead as scheduled.

15 September 2008 : Green House Gas Savings resulting from Blackout Day! Blackout Day has partnered with WWF Canada's The Good Life Program to make EVERY DAY BLACKOUT DAY! The Good Life is a community for Canadians who want to make simple but significant changes in their lifestyles that help fight climate change and reduce their footprint on the planet. Join The Good Life! And Make every day Blackout Day! GHG Savings are calculated below based on the actions everyone promised to take on Blackout Day by signing up for the Blackout Day challenge. These numbers are based on those who signed up, there were hundreds, maybe even thousands more people who took the same actions on Blackout Day! FOR A BREAKDOWN OF THESE CALCULATIONS VISIT http://thegoodlife.wwf.ca/FAQ.cfm Blackout Day is August 14th, the anniversary of the 2003 Blackout. Blackout Day Group has two important missions: * Creating awareness and a call to action for people, businesses, schools and cities to conserve energy and make a difference. * Bringing people together and having fun with the lights off!

13 August 2008 : Small Businesses Are Unprepared For Power Outages: Next Blackout Could Put Them In... : Small Businesses Are Unprepared For Power Outages: Next Blackout Could Put Them In The Red : Emerson Survey Reveals That Majority of Small U.S. Companies Do Not Have Back-up Power Systems : ST. LOUIS--(Business Wire)-- If the power goes out, will America's small businesses be prepared? Not really, according to the results of a recent survey commissioned by Emerson Network Power, a business of Emerson (NYSE:EMR) and the global leader in enabling Business-Critical Continuity(TM). The survey results indicate that the issue is not really "if" the power will go out but "when." Consider these statistics: -- 79 percent of the small-business decision-makers surveyed experienced at least one power outage in 2007. -- 67 percent of respondents anticipate experiencing outages again in the next 12 months. -- Even more alarming is that of the small businesses that experienced outages in 2007, 42 percent had to close their businesses during the longest outages. And while small-business decision-makers ranked outages above fire, government regulation, weather damage, theft, and employee turnover as threats to their businesses, only 39 percent of them have back-up power systems, leaving 61 percent vulnerable to the negative business impacts of outages. "Keeping the lights on, the computers running, and employees working during a power outage is important for any business, but particularly for small businesses," said Ed Feeney, an Emerson executive vice president who heads up Emerson Network Power's Systems business, which provides back-up power technologies. "Their margin for error is thinner and the competition's tighter, so even a brief outage can do significant harm. This makes back-up power systems a fundamental part of business continuity." In a tight economy, a plunge into darkness could put a small business in the red. On average, power outages cost about $80 billion each year, with most losses - 98 percent - borne by businesses, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. "Emerson's survey findings are alarming considering that more than 99 percent of all American businesses are small businesses, with these companies generating 45 percent of the total U.S. payroll," said Steve Strauss, nationally syndicated business columnist and author of "The Small Business Bible." "It is critical that small enterprises have a business-continuity plan that includes back-up power systems to keep the business running when the main power source goes down." John Zagara, owner of Zagara's Marketplace, a Cleveland-area supermarket, needs no convincing. "During the massive blackout of August 2003, the power went out mid-afternoon. Our back-up power system automatically switched my electrical source to a natural gas-powered generator which ran all registers and certain refrigerated equipment," Zagara said. "Our front-end staff continued to check out customers until closing at 9 p.m. Our customers were in awe of our service delivery." Zagara's back-up power equipment enabled him to not only continue serving customers, but to save meat and frozen foods, valuable perishable inventory.

14 August 2008 : Power providers worried about looming blackouts : COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) | Five years after the worst blackout in North American history, the country's largest power providers say the problems that turned out the lights on 50 million people have largely been resolved, but they fear that larger, systemic issues could soon lead to even bigger and more damaging outages. Excess capacity in the system is shrinking and construction, as well as plans for new plants, has slowed as costs to build and operate them have soared. Michael Morris, chairman, president and chief executive officer of American Electric Power, answers questions during an interview Monday, Aug. 11, 2008, in Columbus, Ohio. Five years after the worst blackout in U.S. history, the country's largest power providers fear massive and rolling outages to come, and say they will not caused by the same mishaps that cut power to as many as 50 million people in 2003. At the same time, it is estimated that electricity use will increase 29 percent between 2006 to 2030 - much of it driven by residential growth, according to a government report issued in June. "I'm really not a Chicken Little player, but I worry that no one seems to be focusing in on this," said Michael Morris, chairman, president and chief executive officer of American Electric Power, which runs the nation's largest electricity transmission system. Mr. Morris said massive outages this year in South Africa, which forced gold, diamond and platinum mines to stop production for five days, should serve as a warning to the U.S. Industry experts back Mr. Morris, and say there is more resistance to building new plants because of the debate over climate change and opposition to new transmission lines. "The level of excess capacity has shrunk down in the last few years to a level barely within the planning toleration of the industry," said Marc Chupka, a principal with the Brattle Group, an energy consultant. The blackout five years ago Thursday shut off power to vast swaths of the Northeast and Midwest for as much as four days. Rolling blackouts continued in Ontario for a week. Hundreds of thousands of people lost access to tap water for days in Ohio and the mayor of Cleveland accused shop owners of gouging people in need of drinking water. Millions of New Yorkers, with subways shut down and office towers darkened, left the city on foot. A U.S.-Canadian government task force largely blamed Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp. for allowing a local power failure near Cleveland to cascade to the East Coast and up into Canada. Industry experts say changes have been made to protect against a similar outage that caused as much as $10 billion in damages to the U.S. economy. But Mr. Morris fears that in 10 to 20 years there may be greater blackouts as demand surpasses supply. "Just think of the economic hardship that would render," he said. Rick Sergel, president of the North American Electric Reliability Corp. of Princeton, N.J., the agency that oversees the nation's power grid, agrees. "We're to the point where we need every possible resource: renewables, demand response and energy efficiency, nuclear, clean coal - you name it, we need it," he said. "And we especially need the transmission lines that will bring the power generated by these new resources to consumers." But as Americans demand more power to feed flat-screen televisions, video games, surround-sound systems and appliances, there is broad opposition to infrastructure that experts say is needed, and the costs are only going up. Construction of coal-fired generating plants has almost stopped and new nuclear plants are years away, if they are approved at all, said Arshad Mansoor, vice president of power delivery and utilization for the Electric Power Research Institute. Better efficiency will only go so far, he said. "If you don't have generation and transmission ... something has to give," he said, and that could be a blackout or brownout.

8 August 2008 : City plungs into darkness to arrest Global Warming Chennai, Aug 8 (UNI) Several parts of the city today plunged into darkness and fell silent as the residents switched off the lights at 2000 hrs to create awareness on Global Warming and its alarming effects. In some areas, the lights remained switched off for eight minutes and eight seconds, coinciding with today's date, 08-08-08, as part of the campaign to arrest Global warming. The Exnora International has given a call to spread the awareness on Global warming by coming out with a campaign, requesting the public to switch off power between at 2000 hrs. The lights in Raj Bhavan were put off at 2000 hrs for eight minutes and eight seconds, as per the orders of Governor S S Barnala, a Raj Bhavan release here said. The Governor has ordered to switch off the lights in support of the call given by Exnora International, the release added. It is high time an awakening was created among the people from all walks of life on the root causes for Global warming and their contribution to reduce the carbon emmissions.

11 July 2008 : French Nuclear Plant Shutdown : Leak closes French nuclear plant : The Tricastin nuclear site contains a power plant and a treatment facility France's nuclear safety watchdog has ordered a plant in the country's south to temporarily close after a uranium leak polluted the local water supply. The plant's operator has been told to improve safety procedures at the site. Waste containing unenriched uranium leaked into two rivers at the Tricastin plant at Bollene, 40km (25 miles) from the popular tourist city of Avignon. People in nearby towns have been warned not to drink any water or eat fish from the rivers since Monday's leak. Officials have also cautioned people not to swim in the rivers or use their water to irrigate crops. Approximately 30 cubic metres of liquid containing unenriched uranium spilled from an overflowing reservoir at the Tricastin facility, which handles liquids contaminated by uranium, into the ground and into the Gaffiere and Lauzon rivers. The site has a nuclear reactor as well as a radioactive treatment plant. The leak happened late on Monday night, but people in the affected areas were not informed until 1000 GMT on Tuesday. The French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) inspected the Tricastin plant on Thursday and found that existing prevention measures were deficient and that its operator, Societe Auxiliaire de Tricastin (Socatri), had been too slow to inform authorities about the leak. The ASN is to submit a report to the state prosecutor for possible legal action against Socatri. The company is a subsidiary of the French nuclear giant, Areva. The safety inspection found that "security steps aimed at preventing any further pollution were not completely satisfactory", the ASN said. The inspectors also found "irregularities" at the site's operations at the time of the leak. Socatri has been ordered to implement "a reinforced surveillance plan, including analysis of the surrounding rivers and ground water". French Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said on Thursday that there was "no imminent danger" to the local population. Socatri has said tests of the groundwater, local wells and the rivers show they have not been contaminated. One anti-nuclear organisation has said it will take legal action against ASN, saying it had delayed sounding the alarm. France is one of the world's most nuclear-dependent countries, with 80% of its electricity coming from nuclear power.

14 July 2008 : Consumers Energy, MPSC Warn of Metal Theft Dangers : Consumers Energy, MPSC Warn of Metal Theft Dangers : LANSING, Mich., July 14 /PRNewswire/ -- With a dramatic 104 percent increase in Consumers Energy copper and aluminum thefts during the first five months of 2008 compared to last year, the utility and Michigan Public Service Commission are warning thieves they risk severe injury or death to themselves, the general public and utility employees when attempting to steal from the utility's equipment or facilities. In addition, those convicted of this crime will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Consumers Energy has recorded 55 copper/aluminum thefts through May of this year, with incidents occurring at the utility's substations up 275 percent through the same timeframe. A total of 30 substation thefts have been tallied, up from eight in 2007. "Theft of these metals is so much more expensive than their actual value. Public safety is compromised every time such a theft occurs, energy interruptions can result, and unexpected repair costs are incurred," said Frank Johnson, senior vice president of Energy Operations for Consumers Energy. Anyone witnessing suspicious activity around utility equipment or facilities is urged to call 1-800-760-3295 immediately, or contact local law enforcement officials, who can expedite capture or recovery efforts. The utility has also implemented increased security and surveillance measures at key locations to assist in identifying those responsible for this illegal activity. Substation thefts continue to be prevalent in Genesee, Saginaw, Calhoun, Jackson and Barry Counties which have seen a marked increase in theft incidents since last year. "In communities large and small, copper cable theft continues to be a major problem that hurts customers - from the resulting power outages, to the dangerous, live wires that may be exposed in neighborhoods," said Michigan Public Service Commission Chairman (MPSC) Orjiakor Isiogu. "The MPSC urges customers to be watchful and report any suspicious activity around utility areas to the police."

Rubbish poses health threat as Greeks strike over pensions : Helena Smith in Athens : The Guardian, Tuesday March 18 2008 : Strikes by millions of workers protesting against pension reforms have thrown Greece into chaos, with rolling blackouts and piles of rotting rubbish posing health risks nationwide. The mayor of Athens, Nikitas Kaklamanis, warned of epidemics because of the rodents attracted by piles of uncollected garbage in cities. "There is a risk of outbreaks of infection, such as gastroenteritis," he said. Almost every sector has been affected by the action, which is expected to reach a climax ahead of a parliamentary vote on the legislation on Thursday. Lawyers, doctors, journalists, bank workers, engineers, pharmacists and transport employees have promised to strike in protest at the reforms that all claim will lead to loss of benefits. Last week the Athens stockmarket was shut down as striking bank employees stopped transactions being processed. Work stopped at Greece's two main container terminals in Pireaus and Salonika.

Shortages of energy, food worry Pakistanis : Crisis will test new government : By Candace Rondeaux : Washington Post / March 16, 2008 : ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - The line for cooking oil was nearly a block long, just a few miles from the Parliament building. Saida Bibi elbowed her way to the front of the angry crowd shoving its way into the government food shop. She had waited in the line seven times for seven hours over the course of a week and left empty-handed every time. But with the price of cooking oil at most markets nearly double what it was at government-subsidized food shops, she had to wait. "I'm a poor woman. I cannot purchase this from the open market for 140 rupees a kilogram," Bibi said. "They should do something for us. First, it was a flour crisis. Then it was cooking oil prices. What are we supposed to do next?" With consumer prices for basic goods hitting new highs in Pakistan, anxieties about the country's economy are also on the rise. After seeing five years of strong gains under the government of President Pervez Musharraf, officials are scaling back expectations for growth in the face of wrenching food and energy shortages. Earlier this month, more than 15 million people were plunged into darkness for hours in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city and its main commercial hub. The blackout was caused by a dispute between the private electric utility and the government-owned utility administration over payments.

Sunday, 16 March 2008 : Two killed as storms maul Georgia : Storm aftermath : A state of emergency has been declared in the US state of Georgia after two people died in storms, a day after a tornado hit the city of Atlanta. Emergency officials confirmed one woman died in Polk County and another in Floyd County as storms lashed the south-eastern state. Friday's 130mph (209km/h) twister left almost 30 people injured and damaged hotels, skyscrapers and sports arenas. Some 10,000 people were still without power on Saturday. As the National Weather Service issued a string of tornado warnings on Saturday, a state emergency management official said: "We're bracing for another round of whatever mother nature throws at us." 'Disaster' : As officials priced the damage from Friday's twister at up to $200m (?99m), Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue declared it a "disaster".

Friday, 14 March 2008 : Cuba moves to lift appliance ban : Cuba's new President Raul Castro is to lift a ban on a wide range of consumer electrical appliances. Cubans will be allowed for the first time to own DVD players and computers, according to an internal government memo leaked to Reuters news agency. Curbs may also be lifted on video machines, electric pressure and rice cookers, microwaves and car alarms, as well as 19-inch and 24-inch TV sets. A top government official confirmed to the BBC such plans were being adopted. But it is thought air conditioners will not be available until 2009 and toasters until the year after due to limited power supplies.

01 March 2008 : Gas firms not ready for carbon trading : The Rudd government faces the first real challenge to the timing of its planned carbon emissions trading scheme as gas producers warn they will not be able to instal the necessary monitoring gear by the 2010 deadline. ExxonMobil, BHP Billiton and Santos, which together account for about 85 per cent of the eastern states' household and business gas market, have warned the Department of Climate Change supply disruptions will be necessary if the timeline is to be met. News Limited newspapers quote one unnamed company executive as saying: "Even if we had begun putting in this equipment four years ago, we could not meet the 2010 carbon trading deadline." "If you added all the work together and did it all at once it would have a similar impact on production as Longford," he also said, referring to the 1998 plant explosion and fire that cut household gas supplies in Victoria for two weeks. Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has reiterated the Rudd government's plan to introduce a cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme, similar to that operating in Europe, by 2010 to give business a financial incentive to cut emissions.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008 : UK pounded by second severe storm : Northern Ireland, north Wales and north-west England are being pounded by gales and heavy rain in the second band of storms to hit the UK in three days. Forecasters say gusts of up to 80mph have hit Northern Ireland as the Atlantic weather front moves eastwards. Motorists faced chaos as several major bridges were affected by the gales and some areas were placed on flood alert. The second day of the prestigious Cheltenham horse racing festival has been abandoned because of the weather. Travel chaos : In Cheshire, the M6 Thelwall Viaduct closed after three lorries overturned but there were no casualties. The Energy Networks Association said of the 30,000 people who lost power in those storms just "a few hundred" in the east of England were still without supply.

Global Warming: A Threat to Infrastructure ? Randolph E. Schmid, Associated Press : March 11, 2008 -- Flooded roads and subways, deformed railroad tracks and weakened bridges may be the wave of the future with continuing global warming, a new study says. Climate change will affect every type of transportation through rising sea levels, increased rainfall and surges from more intense storms, the National Research Council said in a report released Tuesday. Complicating matters, people continue to move into coastal areas, creating the need for more roads and services in the most vulnerable regions, the report noted. "The time has come for transportation professionals to acknowledge and confront the challenges posed by climate change and to incorporate the most current scientific knowledge into the planning of transportation systems," said Henry Schwartz Jr., past president and chairman of the engineering firm Sverdrup/Jacobs Civil Inc., and chairman of the committee that wrote the report. The report cites five major areas of growing threat:
* More heat waves, requiring load limits at hot-weather or high-altitude airports and causing thermal expansion of bridge joints and rail track deformities.
* Rising sea levels and storm surges flooding coastal roadways, forcing evacuations, inundating airports and rail lines, flooding tunnels and eroding bridge bases.
* More rainstorms, delaying air and ground traffic, flooding tunnels and railways, and eroding road, bridge and pipeline supports.
* More frequent strong hurricanes, disrupting air and shipping service, blowing debris onto roads and damaging buildings.
* Rising arctic temperatures thawing permafrost, resulting in road, railway and airport runway subsidence and potential pipeline failures. The nation's transportation system was built for local conditions based on historical weather data, but those data may no longer be reliable in the face of new weather extremes, the report warns.

Climate change could snarl U.S. transport: study : Tue Mar 11, 2008 : By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent : WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Flooded highways, railroads and airport runways are among the transportation snarls looming as the world's climate changes, and officials should plan with this in mind, a U.S. study says. Modern transportation that runs on fossil fuel has been singled out as a key cause of climate change but the study released on Tuesday by the National Research Council said most transport also is vulnerable to the effects of global warming. "We're not just concerned about gradual changes in temperatures," said Henry Schwartz, who chaired the panel that wrote the report. "We're mostly concerned about the extremes, the surprises that may come forth.

Fuelling Baghdad's energy crisis : By Hugh Sykes : BBC News, Baghdad : I am writing this looking at a smart colour graph that has been sent to the BBC bureau in Baghdad by the US Department of State. It is part of what they call the Weekly Essential Indicators report. The graph shows the demand for electricity across the country compared with the supply. Over the past year, supply has never even got near meeting the demand. Energy gap : Seventy per cent was the very best, but that was exceptional and coincided with the autumn, when the weather is warm and pleasant here and people use their air conditioners and fans less than they do in the searing heat of the summer. And, they have not yet switched on their heaters for the cold desert nights of winter. On the graph, the supply line mostly hovers around 55% and dips below 50 several times. That is for the whole country and supply to Baghdad is pitiful. Hours and hours go by without mains electricity, then it suddenly will be available for a short time and go dead again. If they can afford to, Iraqis buy generators and the fuel for them. Home made power : There are massive machines in back gardens roaring almost incessantly. Prescient entrepreneurs have bought old diesel engines which they use to generate power which they sell to the rest of the neighbourhood, through tangles of coloured cables stretching anarchically over walls and down streets. Some pavements in central Baghdad are crowded with small petrol generators, enough to keep the lights and the TV on at home when city power fails. Preparation for post-Saddam Iraq was 'lamentable' says a US officer Those streets are like open-air cash and carry warehouses. As well as the small generators, the pavements are piled high with fridges, air conditioners, personal computers and printers as well as items which were prohibited or unavailable during the Saddam Hussein years like DVD players, satellite decoders and high-definition plasma TVs. And that is part of the problem. The national grid is constantly playing catch-up. The generating capacity has increased since the invasion, but not enough to feed all those power-thirsty electrical goods. And the power stations are decrepit anyway, after years of neglect and sanctions and sabotage by insurgents. 'Lamentable' planning : Shortly after the famous statue of Saddam Hussein was dragged off its pedestal in Firdaus Square on 9 April five years ago, I hopped into the back of an unarmoured American Humvee - canvas roof flapping, driver smoking a cigar - to visit an electricity sub-station with a kindly reservist American major who is an electrical engineer. Kindly, but unrealistic. "Hugh," he promised, "we'll get normal power back up and running in Baghdad in 48 hours." Electricity is one of the absolute fundamentals. "It is the nerve of modern life," an Iraqi power station director told me.

Thursday, 6 March 2008 : Two time zones 'to save SA power' : South Africans are getting used to using candles. South Africa could be split into two time zones to ease a crippling energy crisis, a top official has said. This would stagger peak demand across the country, the director of public enterprise told parliament. Portia Molefe said the move could lead to an energy saving of about 200 MW but that the idea needed further study. Last month Minerals and Energy Minister Bujelwa Sonjica said South Africans should consider going to bed early to save electricity. Ms Molefe said having two time zones had been considered in the past but had been dropped because most of South Africa's industry was all in the same area - Gauteng. But she said there was now enough industry in the Western Cape to make it worth considering the option. Middle-class suburbs are not as used to the power outages. Meanwhile, state power company Eskom has announced that it will not approve connections for major new constructions for up to six months to ease pressure on its supplies. Eskom spokesman Andrew Etzinger said the company would honour already signed contracts but would not consider new applications. The BBC's Peter Greste in Johannesburg says this is bad news for investors and developers hoping to go ahead with new projects. It is also worrying for the government which was counting on sustained economic growth to ease a massive unemployment problem, he says. The business community fears that the move will push investors to look elsewhere to spend their money. Power cuts have wreaked havoc on businesses and industries and disrupted the country's mining sector, raising fears of job losses. Breaking point : But Eskom says too much development could push its over-stretched capacity to breaking point, and is asking for time to increase its capacity. The company hopes to double its capacity by 2011, by reviving three stalled coal stations and building two new ones. Coal is used to generate about 90% of electricity supplies at state power company Eskom. New housing developments and schools will not be affected. The company has also promised that the electricity crisis will not affect the 2010 World Cup. The acute electricity crisis has been blamed on years of under-investment by the government and rising demand. South Africa has already reduced electricity supplies to its neighbours, affecting countries such as Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia.

Thousands of homes left powerless as 80mph winds batter Britain : Peter Walker and agencies : guardian.co.uk, Monday March 10 2008 A powerful storm battered the south and west of Britain today, flooding homes and disrupting sea, air, rail and road travel, with forecasters warning of more potential damage to come. An initial coastal surge early this morning, caused by a combination of strong winds, low pressure and a high spring tide, flooded some homes and businesses in Cornwall and parts of Wales, although the damage was less severe than feared. The Environment Agency was warning of a risk of renewed flooding around high tide this evening. One severe flood warning was in place in Chichester, West Sussex, and there were another 22 flood warnings, mostly in the south and south-west of England. "We are still urging people to find out about local warnings and to be prepared," an Environment Agency spokeswoman said. Stephen Davenport, a senior forecaster with MeteoGroup, said: "There are still gales of 70-80mph to come this evening, in the south west, in a second wave. It will be windy elsewhere too, but calming down during the night. "The next event comes on Tuesday night, and early Wednesday, when there will be more high winds, this time across Northern Ireland, southern Scotland, northern England and north Wales, with gusts of more than 70mph expected. There will also be gales then in the south and south west." Dozens of people were rescued from a seafront caravan park this afternoon after waves crashed over sea defences and flooded the site. Coastguard workers and Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) staff led around 40 people to safety from the site in Selsey, near Chichester, and were searching for anyone who might be trapped after some caravans were washed off their sites by waves. No one was reported injured. More than 7,000 homes in the West Country and south Wales were left without electricity this morning. Fire services reported dozens of fallen trees across roads and damage to some houses. Lloyds TSB Insurance said it had seen a 150% increase in new claims registered, compared with a typical Monday morning, with customer call levels up 55%. Transport was severely affected and the port of Dover closed for a few hours. Ferries between Holyhead and Dublin, and from Pembroke to Rosslare, were called off. A number of flights were cancelled or diverted at Heathrow and Gatwick airports this morning, while others were diverted later to Birmingham as winds continued to gust. Although the south-west of England and Wales were the worst hit, severe weather warnings were imposed for much of England and Northern Ireland, and forecasters warned of heavy snow in parts of Scotland. Snow ploughs were brought out to clear the A66 trans-Pennine route in Cumbria. Limited flooding was reported in parts of Cornwall, mainly in Looe, Flushing, Fowey and Mevagissey. Pembrokeshire county council said some houses in Fishguard had been flooded, as well as commercial properties in Haverfordwest. The storm was caused by one of the deepest weather depressions for several years. "We probably get wind speeds that high around the UK about once or twice a year," said Dave Britton, a Met Office meteorologist. "What is more unusual about this is the low pressure, at 940, which we only see about once every five years or so. Again, this is not a completely exceptional figure, but it is a very large area of low pressure." Devon and Cornwall coastguards toured exposed areas with loudhailers, warning householders of the potential threat. Police forces placed officers on standby, while fire services borrowed extra rescue boats from other counties. Emergency services warned people not to venture too near to the coastline. "Hopefully the public will also stay away from the beaches," said Geoff Matthews, from Solent coastguard. "It's very nice to go and watch the waves but it's also very easy to get swept away by them." There were problems on the roads, notably on the M25 where flooding caused the closure of two lanes in Surrey. Accidents and floods hit a series of other roads, while police in Dorset warned people to make only "essential" journeys. The Sheppey crossing and the Queen Elizabeth II bridge at Dartford, Kent were closed. The AA said it was on course for its busiest day of the year so far. It predicted it would receive 16,000 call-out requests, compared to 9,500 on an average day. Rescuers were called to help a Swedish-registered tanker off the Isle of Wight. The 11,000-tonne vessel was helped by tugboats after stormy seas caused rudder damage. "We launched in force 11 winds. It was pretty horrendous," said John Keyworth, a spokesman for the RNLI in Bembridge, Isle of Wight. Steven Mann, from the local coastguard, said he hoped crews could fix a line to the tanker and tow it to safety before winds strengthened again on the south coast. The highest recorded wind speed was 95mph at The Needles on the Isle of Wight at 1pm, while gusts of 82mph were recorded at Berry Head in Brixham, south Devon. In other parts of the country, winds on the east coast of Northern Ireland hit 63mph, Crosby in Merseyside saw 42mph gusts, and gales reached 46mph in Birmingham.

U.S. coal power boom suddenly wanes : By Mark Clayton Tue Mar 4 : Concerns about global warming and rising building costs are blocking construction of new coal-fired power plants in the United States and pushing utilities to turn to natural gas and renewable power instead. Utilities canceled or put on hold at least 45 coal plants in development last year, according to a new analysis by the US Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh. These moves ? a sharp reversal from a year ago, when the industry had more than 150 such plants in development ? signal the waning of a major US expansion into coal. Natural-gas and renewable power projects have leapt ahead of coal in the development pipeline, according to Global Energy Decisions, a Boulder, Colo., energy information supplier. Gas and renewables each show more than 70,000 megawatts under development compared with about 66,000 megawatts in the coal-power pipeline. This year could diminish coal's future prospects even more. Wall Street investment banks last month said they will now evaluate the cost of carbon emissions before approving power plants, raising the bar much higher for new coal projects, analysts say. "What you're seeing is a de facto moratorium on coal power right now," says Robert Linden, a senior oil and gas analyst at Pace Global in New York. "You turn off the money spigot, you've turned off those plants." Aside from the 28 or so coal-fired power plants already under construction, prospects remain tenuous for the half-dozen plants "near construction" and another 80 plants not nearly as far along, says Steve Piper, managing director of power forecasting at Platts, the energy information division of McGraw-Hill. "Expansions [of existing plants] still have a good chance. But others will come under increased pressure for deferral or outright cancellation." Coal is still booming, some say Some coal-industry officials say the cancellations belie a surge for coal. "We're in the middle of a coal building boom with more new coal plants now under construction than anytime since the 1980s," says Joe Lucas, executive director of Americans for Balanced Energy Choices, a lobby group supported by coal companies and electric utilities. Others call the growing resistance to coal power worrying. "It is a crisis for us because what we are not really focusing on is: Where is the electricity we need for the next 50 years going to come from?" said Gregory Boyce, chairman of Peabody Energy, at a "clean tech" conference recently in Palm Springs, Calif. "We view it as short-term and very unfortunate because we need to continue to build these new coal plants ? that are at least 15 to 20 percent more carbon-efficient than the plants they replace ? while we continue to work on technologies for the next generation of plants that are carbon-capture ready or that capture carbon and store it." With US energy demand growing about 1.2 percent a year, big utilities must get energy from somewhere. So far, utilities seem to be shifting to natural gas and renewable energy. In Florida, two coal-fired power plants were recently nixed, but natural-gas turbines are to take their place. PacifiCorp, a regional electric utility owned by Warren Buffett's investment company, turned its back on coal-fired power late last year and now emphasizes gas and wind. After years in the doldrums, the natural-gas industry is surging, with 170 power plants being planned (although, as with coal, many will never be built). "The shift to natural gas is still only beginning at this point," says Mr. Piper of Platts. "As utilities cancel coal, they're turning to natural gas ? so we expect a further move in this direction." Move to gas could mean higher prices But that big shift from coal to natural gas may ultimately cost consumers more and could even weaken the reliability of the electric grid, some analysts say. Natural-gas prices that soared after hurricane Katrina have fallen back. Yet rising use of gas for power generation could make America reliant on imported liquefied natural gas (LNG), pushing domestic natural-gas prices up perhaps 20 percent in a decade, warns Mr. Linden of Pace Global. This raises energy-security concerns, since many of the nations supplying LNG are in politically unstable parts of the world, he adds. Some in the power industry also say gas-fired turbines are less reliable when used for "base load" power ? the turbines that spin day and night and not just for peak loads. "There's a serious crunch with respect to having enough generating capacity coming in the next 10 years," says Rick Sergel, chief executive officer of North American Electric Reliability Corp., which serves the federal government as chief overseer of the US electric grid. "If coal doesn't play its role, it's going to be a major issue." But his warnings that the nation will need 135,000 watts of new generating capacity by 2016 aren't something experts agree on. The federal Energy Information Administration forecasts a need for only 4,000 megawatts of additional capacity by the same date. Bruce Nilles, who organizes grass-roots opposition to coal power plants for the Sierra Club, an environmental group, says power-demand projections are soft. "There's not going to be a big need for more coal," he says. "There are plenty of alternatives coming." In fast-growing areas of the country like Texas, regulators worry that demand will outstrip power supplies. The big Texas utility TXU last year canceled eight of 11 coal-fired power plants it had on the drawing boards. Yet Texas now leads the nation in wind-power generation and is aggressively building more. The state also holds potential to lead the nation in sequestering carbon emissions from power plants in old oil fields and saline aquifers. Tenaska Inc., a power company based in Omaha, Neb., announced last month it was planning the nation's first new conventional coal-fired power plant to capture 90 percent of its carbon-dioxide emissions. It aims to sell the CO2 to oil companies, who would pump it underground to boost oil production. Mr. Sergel's organization has warned Texas it could have reliability problems if it doesn't build more power soon. Others in the coal-power industry are adamant, too. "If they don't start building coal plants, it's going to be an economic prosperity problem for the country," says Richard Storm, CEO of Storm Technologies, an Albemarle, N.C., company that specializes in optimizing coal-fired power plants. "We need coal. Coal is a national treasure." ?Staff writer Ben Arnoldy contributed to this article from Palm Springs, Calif.

Lump sums : Oil production may soon 'peak', but what about coal? : David Strahan reports on the recent figures that suggest global reserves may not be nearly as plentiful as the industry and governments have led us to believe. David Strahan : The Guardian, Wednesday March 5 2008 : For weeks, South Africa has suffered rolling blackouts caused in part by a shortage of coal. Gripped by unusually bitter snowstorms, China recently banned coal exports for the next two months. And at Newcastle, Australia, the world's largest coal export terminal in the world's largest coal exporting country, the queue of carriers waiting to load has been known to stretch almost to Sydney, 150km to the south. Coal, for so long the Cinderella of fossil fuels, is suddenly not just in demand but in desperately short supply. The world's biggest producers and exporters are struggling, and the price of imports to Europe has doubled to almost $140 (?70.5) per tonne over the past year. "It's a global crunch," says John Howland, managing editor of the international coal industry magazine McCloskey's Coal Report. The immediate reasons for the price spike are soaring demand, inadequate infrastructure and bad weather. But now there are also gnawing doubts that global coal production may, within the next few decades, face fundamental geological constraints, or "peak coal". Ask most energy analysts how much coal we have left, and the answer will be a variant on "plenty". The latest "official" statistics from the World Energy Council put global coal reserves at the end of 2006 at a staggering 847bn tonnes. Since world coal production that year was just under 6bn tonnes, the reserves-to-production (R/P) ratio - the theoretical number of years the reserves would last at the current rate of consumption - is well over 100 years. It is commonly assumed, therefore, that there can be no shortage of coal this century. However, a clutch of recent reports suggest that coal reserves may be hugely inflated - a possibility that has profound implications for global energy supply and climate change. A report published last year by the EU Institute of Energy pointed out that as demand for coal has soared since the turn of the century - with China famously opening one coal-fired power station per week - the world's reserves have fallen fast. The authors calculated that the R/P ratio had dropped by almost a third, from 277 years in 2000 to just 155 in 2005. Marginal deposits : Mysteriously, this fall happened despite a sharp rise in the price of coal, which traditional economic theory suggests should increase the level of reserves by making it possible to exploit more marginal deposits. The report warned that "the world could run out of economically recoverable (at current economic and operating conditions) reserves of coal much earlier than widely anticipated". When the latest data, from 2006, was published last year, the R/P ratio had dropped again to just 144 years. Energy Watch, a group of scientists led by the German renewable energy consultancy Ludwig B?lkow Systemtechnik, has drawn an even more alarming conclusion. In a report also published last year, the group argues that official coal reserves are likely to be biased on the high side. "As scientists, we were surprised to find that so-called proven reserves were anything but proven," says the report's lead author Werner Zittel. "It is a clear sign that something is seriously wrong." Energy Watch found that many countries' reserves figures had remained suspiciously unchanged for decades - China's since 1992, despite having mined 20% in the intervening years. But in those countries that had revised their figures, the changes were overwhelmingly negative. For instance Britain, Germany and Botswana had cut their reserves by over 90%, more than could be accounted for by mining alone, suggesting these gloomier updates were based on improved data. As a result, Energy Watch concluded the current reserves figures are likely to represent the upper limit of available coal, meaning that production will stall far sooner than expected. On the basis of a country-by-country analysis, the group forecasts that although global coal output could rise by about 30% over the next decade, it will peak as early as 2025 and then fall into terminal decline. Less coal, of course, means less carbon, and a recent analysis by Dave Rutledge, chair of the department of engineering and applied science at the California Institute of Technology, suggests that current forecasts of man-made CO2 emissions may be far too pessimistic. By analysing the coal production trends in individual countries, using an ingenious technique called Hubbert linearisation, Rutledge's estimate of the total amount of coal that remains to be produced is much lower than the official figures. Using historical examples such as Britain, where coal output peaked in 1913 and mining is now all but finished, he can demonstrate that the approach is far more accurate than traditional explanations. By this method, the predicted future global coal production will amount to around 450bn tonnes before mining stops - little more than half the current official reserves figure. The effect on the emissions outlook is dramatic, producing a peak atmospheric CO2 concentration in 2070 of just 460ppm (parts per million) - fractionally above the 450ppm that many scientists believe is the threshold for runaway climate change, and lower than even the most optimistic of the 40 climate scenarios by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). "In some sense, this is good news," Rutledge says. "We are likely to hit 450ppm without any policy intervention." Therefore, even if governments did nothing, total CO2 concentration would not surpass the presumed climate change threshold by much. Dangerously complacent : Neither Energy Watch nor Rutledge could remotely be described as climate-change deniers - quite the opposite - but their findings worry many climate scientists, including Pushker Kharecha, at the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. He agrees that coal reserves are probably overstated, but insists that curtailment of coal emissions is still essential to combat climate change. "What are the risks if the low-coal people are wrong?" he asks. To pin our hopes on low coal would be dangerously complacent, he argues, because if it is only marginally wrong the additional emissions could ensure catastrophe. Rutledge agrees that although his analysis suggests that the fossil fuel reserves assumed in the IPCC model are far too high, it does not mean the problem of climate change is solved. Recent evidence suggests that the climate is more sensitive to carbon emissions than previously thought, and the IPCC model does not yet take account of long-term "positive feedback loops", such as the melting Siberian permafrost or shrinking icecaps, which will accelerate global warming. Jim Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute, has warned that the danger threshold for CO2 is probably much lower than 450ppm. What it does mean, however, is that the world's looming energy crisis could be even more severe than anyone imagines. In the International Energy Agency's latest long-term forecast, global coal consumption needs to rise 60% by 2030 to satisfy economic growth, and coal-fired electricity generating capacity has to double. But if Zittel and Rutledge are right, there is little chance of those predictions being fulfilled. And as global oil production goes into terminal decline within the next decade or so, there is even less chance that synthetic coal-to-liquids fuels can make up the crude deficit. But the good news is that the imperatives of climate change and peak oil are identical. "In the long run, economies that rely on depletable resources are doomed to fail," Zittel warns. "The coal peak makes it even more urgent to switch to renewable energy without delay." ? David Strahan is the author of The Last Oil Shock, published by John Murray Ltd. Details at lastoilshock.com

Downward spiral : John Vidal : The Guardian, Wednesday March 5 2008 : The government insists that the UK has "considerable" coal reserves, but declines to be more precise. However, reserves are clearly nothing like what they were believed to be less than 30 years ago. In 1980, the UK claimed "proved recoverable reserves" of 45bn tonnes to the World Energy Council (WEC). This figure has been continually revised downwards to only 0.22bn tonnes in the WEC's last report. But the government is committed to support what is left of an industry that 100 years ago employed more than one million people and which dug 250m tonnes of coal a year. In the past seven years, it has subsidised coal by more than ?200m, even though output has continued to fall. In 1995, total UK coal production was 51.3m tonnes, but in 2004 this had dropped to just over 30m tonnes. In 2003, imports of coal outpaced UK production for the first time. In 2005, production was just 20m tonnes - down significantly on 2004. The industry is now moving towards opencast pits. In 2006, planning authorities considered 12 applications, rejected two and approved 10. Coal is also seen as essential by four of the biggest energy companies working in Britain. E.ON, RWE npower, ScottishPower and Scottish and Southern have plans for a total of eight new coal-burning power stations. If these are built, Britain will remain locked into a coal economy for the next 30 years. The first new plant, at Kingsnorth in Kent, is expected to be fully approved by government in the next few months. If it is built, it will be the UK's first new coal plant in 30 years. This week, it was announced that the climate camp - last year held at Heathrow airport - would be at Kingsnorth from August 4-11.

Gov't approves bill to revise energy-saving law for more CO2 cuts+ : Mar 3 2008 : TOKYO, March 4 (AP) - (Kyodo)?The Cabinet approved a bill Tuesday to revise Japan's energy-saving law, aiming to cut at least 5 million more tons of carbon dioxide emissions by toughening rules on the commercial sector, including office buildings and convenience stores. The revision is Japan's latest effort to meet its Kyoto Protocol target of slashing greenhouse gas emissions an average 6 percent from 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012, officials said. The government is seeking to put the revised law into effect in April next year. Compared with the industrial sector, energy consumption in Japan's commercial and transportation sectors has rapidly increased. But the two sectors have been slow to reduce CO2 emissions. If the law on the rational use of energy is revised, about 50 percent of operators in the commercial sector that are using energy equivalent to more than 1,500 kiloliters of crude oil annually will be required to report CO2 emissions to the government, up from the current 10 percent, the officials said. The current law mainly targets factories to calculate and report their CO2 emission levels, but not, for example, corporate head offices, operators of convenient stores, hotels and hospitals. In contrast, about 90 percent of energy used in the industry sector is already covered by the law, according to the officials. Also under the current law, companies that plan to build condominiums or other types of buildings with gross floor space of more than 2,000 square meters are obliged to report their energy-conserving measures to local authorities. In the event house builders do not comply with this obligation or their energy-saving measures are deemed insufficient, with the revision, authorities will be able to order them to improve or slap them with a penalty of up to 1 million yen, the officials said. Starting in April 2010, the revised law would require companies that plan to set up smaller buildings with gross floor space of more than 300 square meters to implement energy-saving practices and report what they will do to decrease CO2 emissions. By revising the law to make its obligations on a company-by-company basis, rather than an operation-by-operation basis, the government hopes to stem Japan's greenhouse gas emissions in the commercial and residential sector, they said.

HIGH WINDS CUT POWER : 10:30 - 03 March 2008 : High winds damaged overhead power lines causing a blackout to about 2,000 homes. People near Uppingham, in Rutland, were without power for 24 hours from 4am on Saturday. Engineers from energy firm Central Networks briefly restored power at 5.30am on Sunday. They were then taken off to allow for more repairs until about 10.50am when 1,700 had supplies restored. The remaining 200 went back on at 2.45pm on Sunday.

Last Week's Florida Blackout Reveals Fragile Grid : Posted by Howard Marks, Mar 3, 2008 : Once again last week the utility industry's version of Jimmy McNulty (see HBO's The Wire) disabled two separate protection devices while diagnosing a bad switch at a south Florida substation causing a fault that propagated through the grid. In the process it cut out power to a nuclear power plant causing it to shut down (And why is it nuclear power plant's can't run on the power they generate?) along with power for 3 million people from Miami to Tampa. While most users got their power back in a few hours this incident leads me to ask: How reliable is our power? and What if this had happened in August when Florida's air conditioners are working full out? No one wants a power plant, gas pipeline or transmission line in their back yard but everyone wants to be cool in the summer, warm in the winter and have the outside of their house lit up like Fremont street in Vegas so burglars can't sneak in. Here in New York there's a proposed power line along the Delaware river the rafting and canoeing industry has successfully blocked for years, a gas pipeline across the Hudson that some say is just too dangerous for the suburbs and a power line across Long Island Sound that Connecticut doesn't want turned on because it would let Long Island buy power from Canada and therefore raise the prices in Connecticut. As a result nothing gets built and our infrastructure is, as shown by the northeast blackout in '03, fraying at the edges. Acording to a Carnage-Mellon study reported in Time the average US customer looses their power for 214 minutes per year. That compares with 53 minutes in France and just 7 minutes in Japan. Clearly we as a nation need to start investing in our transmission system. Soon generation will also be an issue and we'll have to balance the known, predictable costs of mining coal by blowing the tops of mountains into the valleys below and filling the air with everything from mercury to CO2 with the unknowns of Nuclear power and alternative sources.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008 : Gazprom deepens Ukraine gas cuts : Supplies to Ukraine are to be cut again : Gazprom, Russia's gas monopoly, says it will cut supplies of gas to Ukraine by a further 25% from 1700GMT. It says shipments are being cut because Ukraine has failed to resolve a dispute over non-payment of debts. Gazprom reduced supplies by 25% from 0700GMT on Monday after talks broke down last week. Ukraine said the reduction was, in fact, 35%. The state-owned gas company said shipments to Europe through its pipelines were unaffected. "Ukraine has not restarted negotiations. The head of Naftogaz Ukraine has not come to Moscow," Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said. He said Ukraine still owed money for gas already delivered, but Ukraine maintains the payments have already been made. Gazprom claims the outstanding debt is $1.5bn (?770m).

Fire at British gas terminal in Norfolk hits heating supplies : 29/02/2008 : A huge blaze at one of Britain's biggest import terminals nearly cut off a tenth of the country's gas supply last night. Engineers had to switch to a storage site for back-up when a blast crippled the plant. Locals told how they feared terrorists had struck at the Shell terminal in Bacton, Norfolk, around tea time. Caravan park owner Richard Hollis, 31, said: "I heard a big bang and the house shook. "I went outside and saw smoke everywhere and then huge flames. It sounded like a bomb." Firefighter got the blaze under control after an hour and 45 minutes and shut it down safely. There were no injuries. The plant, which processes gas from North Sea platforms and Europe, was still closed last night.

Saturday, 1 March 2008 : Storms cut power to 'thousands' : Engineers are working to restore power to thousands of homes in the East Midlands after high winds overnight. Lincolnshire Police said they handled more than 500 calls on Friday night and early Saturday morning with most of them weather-related incidents. Central Networks said a total of about 6,000 properties were affected in the region, mostly in Lincolnshire. In Derby, a section of a barber's shop in Green Lane was blown off in the high winds damaging a neighbouring property.

25th February 2008 : Bolivia, which has seen a rise in domestic energy demand, has struggled to meet its contractual obligations to supply natural gas to both Brazil and Argentina. Petrobr?s, the Brazilian national energy company, which has a much larger contract with Bolivia, has been unwilling to divert any supplies to Argentina because of concerns here that Brazil could face its own energy shortfalls. That changed little over the weekend as leaders from the three countries met in Buenos Aires to discuss energy issues, with Argentina walking away with no pledges for more natural gas supply. The result is that both Argentina and Chile - which Argentina has cut off from natural gas supplies the past few years - will face severe risks of energy shortfalls this coming winter. President Luiz In?cio Lula da Silva of Brazil promised that his country would seek to provide some electricity - but not natural gas - to Argentina in the coming months, as Brazil did last June and July when Argentina was struggling to supply its industries and homes. Foreign Minister Celso Amorim of Brazil portrayed the move last year as a "sacrifice." He said in an interview that Brazil would not help Argentina this year if it meant "the risk of having blackouts or brownouts in Brazil."

24th February 2008 : International campaigns to restore basic services and power to Gaza

CHP in NYC: opportunities and obstacles : Stephen Hammer & Jeanene Mitchell : New York City?s electricity demand continues to rise, and the installation of many more decentralized CHP systems would be an ideal way to meet at least some of the new generation capacity required. But the city needs a more explicitly pro-CHP policy environment to allow this to take place, write Stephen A. Hammer and Jeanene Mitchell : By several different accounts, New York City faces an imminent electricity supply shortfall due to steady demand growth, the anticipated retirement of existing in-city power generation capacity, and difficulty siting and financing large new in-city power plants. PlaNYC2030, the long-term growth and sustainability plan released by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in April 2007, details a variety of approaches the city can pursue to reduce the size of this anticipated supply gap in an environmentally sound manner1. Because of their highly efficient design, CHP systems are potentially a valuable tool in PlaNYC?s efforts to satisfy local demand while simultaneously reducing the city?s overall greenhouse gas emissions.

Hospitals without water ? : 27/02/2008 : If any place 'deserves' to be out of water for days, it should certainly not be our hospitals. Gradually Ghanaians are accepting the harsh situation where at a particular time of the year there is either no water or electricity supply. So it was some few months ago when the public and businesses had to endure almost a year without constant supply of electricity. Now it is water shortage and many parts of the country, especially the urban areas are the worse hit. The situation is so acute in the Accra metropolis that even hospitals have to be running without water supply. This situation has compelled the administrators of the hospitals to embark on emergency measures to curtail the situation.

Afghanistan: Power Cuts Leave Helmand Shivering : By Mohammad Elyas Dayee and Aziz Ahmad Tassal : LASHKAR GAH, Helmand, Afghanistan, February 21, 2008 (ENS) - An unusual cold snap combined with an almost total power blackout has left Helmand residents shivering in their homes. Most of households, even in the capital, Lashkar Gah, have no electricity at all. Others get it for no more than an hour or two per day - just enough to turn on their water pumps to fill their cisterns. Even government offices are affected. Work in some places is almost at a standstill, while the local media is unable to broadcast much of the time. "For God's sake, what kind of a government this is?" asked Sharafudin, who lives in Lashkar Gah. "Forty different nations have a presence in our country. Have they only come for fighting here? Or do they want to create an opportunity for us to have a good life?" His complaint is echoed around the province. Many blame central government and international military forces for not fixing the problem.

Power, coal shortages likely to re-emerge this year : 'Systemic' problems in the supply, delivery and pricing of power coal will lead to further electricity shortages this year, said Wang Yonggan, vice-general secretary of the China Electricity Council, speaking at a conference. Wang, cited in a report in the official China Electric Power News, said problems were already evident before the temperatures plunged to record lows in late January. Stockpiles had already begun to drop alarmingly at the end of December. The government has consistently blamed the weather for the recent coal and power shortages. With electricity tariffs set by the government, power producers have been unable to pass on surging coal costs to their customers, giving them a disincentive to maintain output at maximum levels. Transportation bottlenecks have reduced supplies and increased costs, and the closure of small local mines has cut off an important alternative source of coal for power plants located far from the big eastern and northern Chinese markets. Shortages in southern China have been particularly severe, and a number of plants in southwestern Yunnan and Guizhou provinces were forced to shut down even before snow and freezing temperatures caused mayhem across the region.

China's worst winter weather in decades damaged power networks in late January and early February, adding to coal-related power shortages and forcing energy-guzzling aluminium smelters in the provinces of Guizhou, Guangxi, Hunan, Sichuan and Yunnan to halt or reduce production. Most smelters have resumed production and will be back at full operation in April. A coal shortage and the soaring cost of the fuel had shut more than 10 gigawatts (GW), or about 6 percent of generating capacity, in regions covered by China Southern Grid Corp in early January, creating a deficit of 6 GW in its area of coverage alone, Chinese media reported on Monday.
Power, coal shortages likely to re-emerge this year - China Electricity Council : 02.26.08 BEIJING (XFN-ASIA) - 'Systemic' problems in the supply, delivery and pricing of power coal will lead to further electricity shortages this year, said Wang Yonggan, vice-general secretary of the China Electricity Council, speaking at a conference. Wang, cited in a report in the official China Electric Power News, said problems were already evident before the temperatures plunged to record lows in late January. Stockpiles had already begun to drop alarmingly at the end of December. The government has consistently blamed the weather for the recent coal and power shortages. With electricity tariffs set by the government, power producers have been unable to pass on surging coal costs to their customers, giving them a disincentive to maintain output at maximum levels. Transportation bottlenecks have reduced supplies and increased costs, and the closure of small local mines has cut off an important alternative source of coal for power plants located far from the big eastern and northern Chinese markets. Shortages in southern China have been particularly severe, and a number of plants in southwestern Yunnan and Guizhou provinces were forced to shut down even before snow and freezing temperatures caused mayhem across the region.

Commentary : Feb 23, 2008 : Rob Burgess : Gore's carbon fantasy : Everyone enjoys a fantasy, and investors have been treated to a beauty in the past week. A group of some of the world's biggest investors met on UN turf in New York last week to hear how it is they, not those tardy, unreliable governments, that hold the keys to a climate-stable future. The 500 or so institutional investors in attendance, who between them manage around $20 trillion in capital, were encouraged by Al Gore to go back to their portfolios with a fine-tooth comb and rake out the "sub-prime carbon assets" before they damage their clients' wealth. Moreover, Gore and others argued, keeping funds tied up in carbon-intensive businesses means missing the boat on a host of renewable or clean investments that will power global economy in the future. The idea is so elegant, it's hard not get carried away. Yes, coal-fired power stations are churning out CO2 at their fastest rate yet, as Professor Ross Garnaut has confirmed this week in his alarming interim report on global warming (Garnaut gets tough, February 21). Yes, in a carbon-constrained world such dirty industries will face huge cost increases, whether in form of emission permits or carbon taxes. So it's easy to see why assets such as the NSW electricity assets might be considered 'sub-prime' ? in fact, advisers for interested parties are already working on 'carbon adjusted asset value' calculations (Trimming carbon from electricity, December 19 ). But that's about as far as the sub-prime analogy goes. A sub-prime mortgage is an asset that barely existed in the first place - a chunk of debt that the borrower never had the means to repay. It was nonetheless sold and resold before the market woke up and realised it was never really there. By contrast, carbon-based assets have a very tangible existence. The brown stuff is there in the ground, the decrepit power generators and over-sized and under-maintained car engines are running, and the carbon will continue to billow skywards. To hear governments talk, it would be easy to think that regulation of carbon emissions was practically a done deal. But it's not, and in the absence of some very clever multi-lateral negotiations, the amount of CO2 pumped out will not stop increasing, let alone diminish. As Australia moves towards a national 'cap and trade' permit system for carbon emissions ? minister for climate change Penny Wong has promised to release full details by year-end ? Europe is facing electricity supply problems brought about by a clumsy roll-out of permits and regulatory confusion between member states.

February 15, 2008 : The Lights Have Gone Out, Who Cares : Inter Press Service : By Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail BAQUBA, Feb 15 (IPS) - Lack of electricity in Baquba has shattered businesses, and the lives of families. Months of power failures has darkened morale everywhere. In Diyala province, just north of Baghdad, a generation has grown up in dark. The province, and its capital Baquba 40 km north of Baghdad has lived with intermittent electricity supply since the times of the sanctions under Saddam Hussein in the 1990s. Came the U.S. in 2003, and everyone thought it would get better. "I felt happy when the U.S. invaded Iraq because I thought the electricity problem will be solved, and we would have it all the time like other countries," Abdul-Kareem Hasan, a trader in Baquba told IPS. But promises of reconstruction by western contractors proved empty, and there is now less electricity than during the sanctions. In some cities, homes get electricity just an hour or two a day. Sometimes, there is no electricity for a week. People struggle to get alternative source of electricity. "Big generators are operated privately for distributing electricity to people," resident Nihad al-Alwan told IPS. "This process implies that a person purchases a generator of certain capacity and gives outlets to people. Each family takes what they need." In Baghdad, that can mean a high bill for electricity in addition to paying for scarce and costly food. In many homes the entire income cannot cover the cost of electricity needs. The failure has fed anger with the government. "If the government were serious about fixing electricity, they could do it easily," said Abdullah Jumeel, a local employee. Businesses are down. "We need electricity to operate the machines, and sometimes we go back home without doing anything," blacksmith Jabar Ameen told IPS. "If there is no electricity, there is no work -- and no money."

London losing lustre as data-centre destination : Nick Heath silicon.com : Published: 28 Feb 2008 : Power-supply issues and soaring lease costs in London are being blamed for forcing companies to look outside the M25 when building new data centres. Accenture has claimed there is a lack of growth in new data centres, compared to demand, in London. The company said the capital only has about five percent capacity for data-centre space, forcing lease prices up by 60 percent and making it increasingly unattractive as a data-centre location. John Cole, senior executive with Accenture's technology consulting practice, said: "The high prices and limited availability have led firms to consider locating their data centres outside of London." One company that has gone down that route is Netcetera, which has been building data centres for 11 years but is considering winding down its four London-based operations as it puts the finishing touches to a new 700-server-rack data centre on the Isle of Man. Netcetera chief operating officer Dave Boswell said the Isle of Man data centre's ability to deliver up to 30kW per rack is far greater than what could be offered in the short term at a London facility. Boswell said modern telecommunication equipment means alternative locations such as Birmingham, the Isle of Man or Manchester can more easily offer high performance at a cheaper price than London. Boswell told ZDNet.co.uk sister site silicon.com: "A lot of existing London data centres were built with 1kW or 2kW racks? but, nowadays, that is just not good enough. You can not add more racks to existing centres because there is no power for it, and businesses building data centres have been told by EDF Energy that it cannot supply what they need this side of the Olympics." "This temporary Olympic blip and the ageing infrastructure in London are creating the need for data centres elsewhere. We expect that we will wind down our London data centres over the next few years," Boswell added.

When city of power engineering is without light : 27.02.2008 // Information Department of Leningrad NPP : The nuclear city of Sosnovy Bor may face new blackouts : Such is the conclusion of the small investigation carried out by a group of journalists from Sosnovy Bor. Seemingly paradoxical this conclusion is still quite typical of Russia. Lets remember what happened quite recently. On Feb 5 2008 at 8:05 AM 110 KV sub-station #168 of Gatchina electric networks (subsidiary of Lenenergo OJSC) supplying electricity to the residential area of Sosnovy Bor caught fire. The fire was extinguished within just 20 minutes but the greater part of the city was left without light. The local authorities reported a crisis: the hospitals and the pumping station of Vodocanal (Water Canal Company) were left without electricity. The hospitals got light the first. The pumping station got it a bit later. As always nothing was done to inform the public of the incident. The regional mass media were the first to react as always with scaring news about some accident at Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant. Due to internet problems (the local internet provider had no light either), the press services of the local administration and Leningrad NPP were not able to react to the rumors with official statements. So, things might well end in a general panic. But the efficiency of the firemen and the inventiveness of the press services of LNPP and the local administration helped to avoid such a sad outcome. And what do we have as a result? The administration of Sosnovy Bor is ?extremely displeased.? ?We have no guarantees that this situation will not recur. The city has no reserve power supply scheme. This situation is absolutely unacceptable,? says the first deputy head of the administration Vasily Vorobyov. The local authorities are already searching for reserve power generating capacities for the city?s hospitals, sewerage and water pumps and other facilities.

Power hungry smelter drains lakes : Sunday, 24 February 2008 MARTEN HUNTER/Sunday Star Times : POWER DOWN: When supplies are tight. the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter becomes a heavy electrical drain. When supplies are tight, the big smelter at Tiwai Pt becomes a heavier burden for Meridian. Tim Hunter reports. Near-record low lake levels are hitting hard at state-owned power generator Meridian as it struggles to feed its huge contract with Tiwai Pt aluminium smelter. The smelter, owned by multinationals Rio Tinto and Sumitomo, buys about 15 per cent of New Zealand's electricity generated every year and is usually fed from the purpose-built hydro station at Manapouri in Fiordland. But water levels at Lake Manapouri and its feeder lake, Te Anau, are now below minimum normal operating levels, severely restricting the station's ability to supply Tiwai Pt. Meridian must therefore source power from elsewhere at market prices. In the current conditions, where lake levels are heading below their levels in the crisis year of 1992, market prices are significantly higher than allowed for in Meridian's smelter contract, producing a serious cash squeeze for the state-owned generator. How much it is costing Meridian is not known, but this month average market prices in the South Island have topped $140 per megawatt hour (MWh) - almost triple the contract price for Tiwai Pt. At those levels Meridian would be losing $1 million a day. Industry sources say Meridian would be unable to secure a hedge contract at a low enough price to avoid losses on its smelter deal. The company does have a back- up contract with Contact Energy to take power from the Clyde and Roxburgh dams, but not at discount prices. Energy data suggest that contract has not yet been invoked. The Star-Times asked Meridian for comment but the company refused to discuss any of these issues, citing commercial confidentiality. Rio Tinto said the contract had arrangements to respond to "extreme hydrological situations", but did not elaborate. Manapouri has been off-line before, but this year there are complications. Energy consultant Bryan Leyland's appraisal of our current electricity supply situation is typically forthright. "We are in deep s--- right now and we're going to be in deeper s--- in the future," he told the Star- Times. The state of our power supplies is "the worst I've seen it in 52 years". The crisis has several causes but the biggest immediate problem in the South Island is lack of rain. Hydro lake levels are around 74% of average and tracking close to their levels in 1992, when the drought was so severe power cuts were enforced.

Darkness Grows beneath Everest; Electricity still a problem in Nepal. What should be our strategies to solve it temporally as well as permanently? : Bhuwan Thapaliya (Bhuwan) : Electricity in Nepal is on for only 16 hours a day. Nepalese are forced to live without electricity for the other 8 hours, six days a week -- 48 hours per week. Just imagine yourself living without electricity for such a long time in New York, Seoul, London and Sydney, and then realize how much the Nepalese are suffering. Is Nepal returning to the Stone Age ? Well, this is Nepal, a nation with huge hydropower potentials (on paper anyway), where the electricity supply has been overrun by a meager 720 megawatt peak load demand, which has led the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) to ration power (load shedding) to its customers. Never-ending Political uncertainties, Terai unrest, acute fuel shortages, and now this mammoth electricity crisis has stolen the smiles from the faces of ordinary Nepalese, whose nation had started producing energy from water resources through Pharping hydro power plant far ahead of China. But look at Nepal today and look where China today is terms of energy security. Fearing the possible future power crisis, China is investing $125 billion in power plants over the next five years and another $130 billion in distribution paths for the power they produce according to media reports. But China is a big and populous nation, and it needs these massive investments to keep the nation floating, you might argue. Yes, it is, but it shows how serious China is about its future power needs. In the interim, let us turn back to Nepal. The recent load shedding has not started all of a sudden. The possible occurrence of load shedding had been forecasted by experts a few years ago, but the government, completely occupied by other complex issues such as signing the peace deal with the Maoists turned a deaf ear toward these forecasts. They either did not care or did not have the necessary vision to solve the energy problem. And on top of this, they are giving lame excuses about the weather. It's the best option chosen by them because if you blame the weather, then the weather won't retaliate. What a scapegoat the authorities have chosen. There is a shortage of power during winter and recent load shedding suggests the need for storage projects as the system is dominated by run-of-the river projects. Thus, instead of blaming the weather, had they built storage projects then the situation would have been at least minimized. But unfortunately it was not to be so. Normal life has been crippled by the load shedding. Ordinary people have to make plans according to the schedule of the electricity, a perfect example of man being the servant of technology. You want to study but you cannot because there is no light; your computer never works when you want it to; your refrigerated goods rot; your rice cooker is just a show pot; your TV is just another useless tool; every now and then you get irritated by the power failure. Economically speaking constant blackouts deteriorates your production level and hampers your country's economy.

Brazil hopes to be singing in the rain : By Jonathan Wheatley in Sao Paulo : Published: February 28 2008 21:59 : The last time Brazil introduced electricity rationing it brought down the government. During 2001 and 2002 a combination of low rainfall and bad management forced distributors to limit supplies to residential and business users alike. President Fernando Henrique Cardoso?s administration was branded "the blackout government" and his party was trounced in the 2002 election. The government of his successor, Luiz In?cio Lula da Silva, is keen to avoid any impression that such a thing could happen again. "We can say that any possibility of rationing this year can be discarded, and we are already preparing for 2009," Hermes Chipp, president of the ONS, the government body that oversees the industry, announced this month. Others disagree. In a recent report to clients, Rowe Michels and colleagues at Bear Stearns warned: ?The next few weeks and months will be critical. If reservoirs do not recover enough to carry the country through the dry season [between May and October] . . . some sort of preventative rationing could be implemented as early as May in a worse-case scenario.? Others argue rationing is already in place. No cuts have been announced but the way that Brazil?s energy market is structured has resulted in prices for some industrial users rising so much as to force at least two big companies to shut down and lay off workers. It is ironic that part of Brazil?s problem is that it is blessed with cheap and abundant electricity from hydroelectric plants. These provide about 85 per cent of electricity but big dams are expensive and time-consuming to build and new projects have met delays and difficulties, especially in obtaining environmental licences. Although Brazil has developed only about a third of its hydroelectric potential, the government has turned to quicker-to-build thermal plants to plug the gap and reduce the country?s vulnerability to low rainfall. But new plants are not keeping pace with demand. Part of the problem is a shortage of natural gas. Brazil?s main supplier is Bolivia, but since La Paz nationalised its gas industry in 2006 (seizing assets owned by Petrobras, Brazil?s state-owned oil company) investment has ground to a halt. Now YPFB, Bolivia?s public-sector hydrocarbons group, cannot fulfil its contracts and wants to divert part of the gas promised to Brazil to Argentina, which faces even greater shortages.

Tajikistan: Energy Crisis Is Not Enough to Lose Patience : Monday, February 25th, 2008 : by Vadim The continuing energy crisis is, probably, the worst problem that Tajikistan ever faced since the end of civil war. Neweurasia reports that most of the population is barely surviving this winter - the harshest in several decades - against the background of constant blackouts. The situation is even more desperate as electricity is the only source of heating throughout the whole country. ?Currently, most of the population in rural areas is supplied with electricity only 1,5 hour a day. In Dushanbe, the population is having electricity from 5 to 10 o'clock in the morning and then from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Beyond these time limits, people have no electricity and, therefore, no heating, no chance to cook etc. Most of the enterprises have been closed down and employees were forced to go on unscheduled and unpaid leave?, neweurasia reports.. Ravshan blames the government for poor management in the energy sector and absurd human resource management [ru]. Meanwhile, the introduced schedule of harsh electricity cut-offs is not fairly observed even in Dushanbe: According to the schedule, the population should have electricity ten hours a day, but very they often turn on the electricity one hour later and cut it off one hour earlier. Basically, people have only 8 hours of access to electricity a day? They say nothing about the fact that the Minister of Energy and Industry graduated from the agricultural university and has no idea on how to manage the energy sector. Moreover, he never worked in this sphere. They also don't tell us that in emergency situation the electricity is being sold out to other countries. They simply say nothing about the most important things? Ian at Beyond the river links wonders whether or not the general population should lose its patience with the leadership, like this anonymous lawyer from the Eurasianet's report has: "We have double standards in our society. We see a number of new construction sites in Dushanbe, five-star hotels ? And we see fancy cars and homes in the city. Everybody knows who these things belong to. These ?masters of life? control the economy, but they are deaf to the people?s cries. In the spring we will be facing another serious threat ? dirty water from taps. And somebody will be appealing again for international assistance. It happens time and again.?" Indeed, the Tajikistan's authorities officially admitted their inability to cope with the energy crisis by appealing to international community for aid. Our leadership is certainly not the best one but - ironically - we'll always be looking back at our southern neighbor, Afghanistan, not wanting to repeat its fate. This is the behavioral model of many post-Soviet nations - ?the fear of the worse? blocks protest potential and the notion of stability is being used to cover stagnation. Apparently, the population will not lose its patience for a long time, as it still remembers the war very well. But once it loses patience, there is a high possibility that Tajikistan can repeat the fate of Afghanistan, which is the least desired for everybody.

Blackout On Indonesia's Java Due To Coal Disruption : INDONESIA: February 22, 2008 : JAKARTA - Large parts of Indonesia's most crowded island, Java, and the resort haven of Bali are hit by severe blackouts as bad weather at ports hampered coal delivery to power plants, but mining operations are unaffected, officials said on Thursday. The power crunch in Java and Bali, which started late on Wednesday, was the result of an electricity deficit of about 1,000 megawatts, an official at the state power monopoly said. The outages are continuing into Thursday, even though the power deficit has been halved but the blackout could spread to other areas in Java if coal supplies do not pick up soon, said Mulyo Adji, PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara's (PLN) spokesman. "Some power plants are running below capacity and some of them are going back to fuel oil. We have turned off supplies to several areas in Java as PLN has a power deficit," Adji said. "Coal supplies to some power plants in Java have been stopped, as ships cannot go to ports because of big waves." The coal disruptions add to problems faced by Indonesia's utility sector that is often hit by outages because of ageing power plant equipment and soaring demand due to its brisk economic growth. The last major blackout was in August 2005. Officials say electricity demand is growing around 10 percent a year, outstripping power supply in a country of more than 220 million as investments in generating plants and transmission lines have lagged. The coal shipment problems forced PLN to seek more oil products from PT Pertamina as a substitute, prompting the state oil firm to raise its imports for February.

25 February 2008 : The major blackout which affected large parts of South Devon led to a power crash at police headquarters in Exeter.The incident, which affected 30,000 homes and businesses, in the Bay and Teignbridge had knock-on effects with a power surge crippling power to facilities at police HQ, Middlemoor. But contingency plans swung into action which meant policing the force area was not 'adversely affected'. Parts of Torbay and Teignbridge were plunged into darkness for an hour on Friday evening shortly after 5pm following an electrical explosion at a sub-station in Brunel Road, Newton Abbot. Western Power Distribution engineers were onsite immediately to deal with the problem which also affected areas as far afield as Exeter and Plymouth. In a statement a police spokeswoman said there was a power surge at Middlemoor. She said: "This led to a complete loss of power to facilities on the site. "Established emergency procedures were brought into action and the function of policing across the force area was not adversely affected.

2/28/08 : Blackout hits 7,300 in East Austin : Man stealing wiring from station triggers outage, suffers burns : By Stephen Keller : About 7,300 Austin Energy customers lost power Wednesday after a man attempted to steal ground wiring at an energy substation. Austin Energy spokesman Ed Clark said the power outage started at 3:20 p.m. and was restored about two hours later. The affected area stretched north from the Colorado River to 54th Street and west from U.S. Highway 183 to Chicon Street, he said. Traffic signals also shut down due to the outage. Clark said crews restored power to areas near Highway 183 and other high-traffic locations first. Police said they did not know if the outage caused any car accidents, but officers were looking into it. "It affected a good part of East Austin," Clark said. "Our crews frankly did a very good job. They had to do switching in the field at other substations so those customers could get served through other feeders." Clark said the problem originated with a man attempting to steal active ground wiring from the Kingsbury energy substation, located near Highway 183 and Springdale Road. One individual suffered severe burns after coming into contact with electrical equipment at the scene and was airlifted to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio where he remains in critical condition with 100 percent of his body burned, Clark said. He said police determined that the injured individual was likely the one stealing copper wiring. The man may have received an electrical surge of about 80,000 volts. "He was cutting a wire that goes from the equipment into the ground," Clark said. "This a favorite target of those who are after copper because you can possibly cut a wire that is a grounding wire and remove it. The problem is, if you touch equipment in certain ways or in two connection points, you can be, of course, shocked." Clark said copper wire theft has increased over the past few years. "The theft of copper wire has become a very big problem across the country, not only from electric utility infrastructure but also at homes, just related to air conditioners sitting outside of homes," he said. "This is a very, very serious reminder that attempting to steal copper wiring from electrical equipment and especially anything that is part of the electric system in your community is very, very dangerous."

Upgrades helped contain Fla. blackout : By Paul Davidson, Alan Gomez and Thomas Frank, USA TODAY : MIAMI ? The power outage that left 1.2 million Florida homes and businesses in the dark Tuesday could have been worse without emergency measures adopted after the disastrous Northeast blackout of 2003, a power industry official said. Numerous systems failed during the blackout, which left two nuclear power plants closed and knocked out traffic lights in dozens of communities. "It wasn't just one thing that went wrong," said Stanley Johnson, manager of Situation Awareness and Infrastructure Security for the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which oversees the U.S. power grid system. "In a sense, it's like the Challenger (space shuttle that exploded in 1986)." The good news, Johnson said, is that power industry upgrades made after the 2003 Northeast blackout prevented the outage from cascading even farther into northern Florida and other states. That outage, the worst in U.S. history, left 50 million without power. While largely hitting south Florida, Tuesday's outage cut a wide swath, shutting down power as far south as the Keys, north to Daytona Beach and west to Tampa.
Florida power cut shuts down nuclear reactors : Wednesday, 27 February 2008 : MIAMI, Feb 26, 2008 (AFP) - A massive power outage left millions of people without electricity across southern Florida on Tuesday, forcing the shutdown of reactors at a nuclear power plant, police and officials said. Electricity was knocked out across a wide area of the southern state stretching from Miami up to Daytona Beach, causing traffic jams as signals malfunctioned, and forcing some shops to close before power was restored to most customers by Friday evening. US government and local police said the widespread outage was not a result of a terrorist attack, but it remained unclear what triggered the blackout. 'We are confirming that there is no nexus to terrorism with the Florida power outages,' Homeland Security Department spokeswoman Amy Kudwa told AFP. 'We understand the initiating event was a malfunctioning disconnect switch' at a substation near Miami, the head of the local utility company Florida Power and Light (FPL), Armando Olivera, said Tuesday evening. 'We still don't know why that didn't work,' he told reporters on a conference call. 'I wouldn't rule anything out right now.' He said the failure struck just after 1:00 pm and most customers had their power back by 5:00 pm. He estimated the outage had affected some 2.5 million customers across the state. Another major power company serving a swathe of central Florida, Progress Energy, restored power to all 153,000 of its customers hit by the outage by around 3:30 pm, spokeswoman Wendy Horne told AFP. Both reactors at the Turkey Point nuclear power plant in Florida were shut down because of the power failure, said Daniel McIntyre, a spokesman for the federal the Nuclear Regulatory Commission based near Washington. 'An under-voltage resulting from that caused the shutdown of the nuclear reactors at Turkey Point' where an automatic shutdown mechanism kicked in, he told AFP. That plant is operated by FPL. Before electricity was gradually restored throughout the late afternoon, the local utility company in Miami was alternating power to signals at road intersections, trying to keep traffic moving, police said.
Wednesday, 27 February 2008 : Millions hit by Florida power cut : Traffic lights were briefly knocked out by the power cut : More than three million people in southern Florida were left without power as power stations across the state shut down. People were stranded in lifts, while several hospitals and Miami airport had to use back-up power, said officials. Hundreds of thousands of homes were without electricity and traffic ground to a halt in many places. A nuclear reactor was among the plants to shut down, but Florida Power & Light Company said there was no danger. Power was restored to most parts of the state several hours later. State officials said the problem at the reactor south of Miami may have been caused by a loss of power from a regional sub-station. There were no signs of a link to terrorism, officials in Washington said. Outages were reported in south-east Florida, the south-west coast and as far up as Tampa after 1300 (1800 GMT). It was the biggest blackout since the summer of 2003, when much of the east coast was plunged into darkness. Power cuts were resolved for most areas of the Sunshine State within several hours, said officials.
Florida's Blackout: A Warning Sign ? : Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008 By TIM PADGETT/MIAMI : Floridians could not have been caught more unaware by Tuesday's massive, afternoon-long blackout. Although temperatures have been unseasonably high this month, they were hardly torrid enough to overload the peninsula's air conditioners. It wasn't hurricane season, either, when tropical storms regularly knock out power lines. It was a tranquil, balmy afternoon by the beach ? the sort of "paradise" so many thousands of people migrate here for each winter. : Lights Out : North America's biggest ever blackout exposed a woefully fragile electrical system. How vulnerable is the U.S.? But it was shattered by what should have been a small, isolated fire in an electrical substation on Miami's western fringe. A breaker shut down the facility, as it's programmed to do; but it failed to contain the problem, as it also should have, and so in response more than a dozen other substations in South Florida's electrical grid shut down as well. That caused a cascading regional grid collapse ? including the Turkey Point nuclear power plant south of Miami ? as electricity demand suddenly outstripped what was being produced. Some 3 million people from South Beach to Tampa to Daytona Beach lost power. No one was hurt; but Miami's already dysfunctional traffic was rendered hopelessly snarled for rush hour. Aside from the transit nightmare, the Florida blackout also revived the awful memory of August 2003, when an even larger grid failure in the Northeast left 15 million people in the dark. Improvements to America's electrical reliability system have been put in place the past five years; but Tuesday was a reminder that the country's power infrastructure is still more vulnerable than many feel it ought to be. According to research by three scholars at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, the average U.S. electrical utility customer experiences 214 minutes of power outage each year ? compared to 70 in Great Britain and just six in Japan. "The U.S.," says their article, "ranks toward the bottom among developed nations in terms of reliability of its electricity service." Florida Power & Light (FPL), the giant South Florida utility that runs Turkey Point and the Miami substation where the blackout started, has yet to discover why the breaker that should have isolated the fire problem failed. "These systems are all designed to handle two contingencies," FPL President Armando Olivera told the Miami Herald. "We still don't have a full understanding of what happened." Says former Florida Public Service Commission Chairman Joe Garcia, a Democratic congressional candidate, "Obviously, they've got some explaining to do. There should have been units [compensating] in other parts of the state to make sure this doesn't happen." But Larry Makovich, vice president and senior policy adviser at the Cambridge Energy Research Association in Cambridge, Mass., says the initial confusion isn't so unusual. "You have to think of the U.S. electrical grid system as one of the world's most complex machines," he says. "A good analogy is the U.S. air traffic control system ? like airplanes, the wires and posts themselves are only part of the story. The monitoring and control aspect needs just as much investment." Both America's electrical hardware and software components, Makovich concedes, are still dealing with "a legacy of underinvestment." In the decade before the 2003 blackout, for example, annual electrical transmission investment in the U.S. grew only about 20%. Between 2005 and 2010 it's expected to jump by some 65%, to about $15 billion ? a level many U.S. infrastructure critics feel the country should have been at by the beginning of the this century, not a decade into it. As with air travel, U.S. electricity reliability is made more daunting by the nation's enormous size and its myriad geographical and climatic challenges, from mountains to hurricanes. That, says Makovich, is another big reason the U.S. has significantly higher rates of power loss than countries like France (only 53 minutes lost per year on average) or the Netherlands (only 29 minutes) ? and why it may still have higher loss rates even after the big investments are finished. "Florida can be troublesome as a peninsular power system," he adds, with few neighboring systems to tie into and big exposure to tropical heat and storms. FPL, the nation's fourth largest utility, came under heavy criticism after Florida's spate of hurricanes in 2005, which exposed lax attention to maintenance issues like updated power line poles, tree-trimming and what was widely considered an outdated grid system. The latter may not have allowed for sufficient redundancy, or the ability to adjust to strains and funnel power via different routes. Many South Floridians have been socked with bill increases of as much as $100 a month since then, which critics argue isn't necessary for a profitable utility with a revenue stream of 100,000 new residents a year. But Florida, like the rest of the country, neglected its power infrastructure investment in the 1990s. And FPL scrutinizers like Mike Twomey, a former Florida Public Service Commission attorney and founder of Florida Utility Watch, says that despite the problems, the company still has "a very high reliability rate" compared to most U.S. utilities ? as low as half the average number of lost power minutes the rest of the country experiences, says FPL. Garcia agrees: "It has a good record, among the best in the Southeast." To many that makes Tuesday's troubles all the more unsettling in a national context. Then again, if a number of things went wrong in Florida, just as many things actually went right: except for the initial substation breaker, the system responded ? and was back up in a matter of hours ? as it should have, perhaps preventing a more serious outage that could have lasted well into the dark night. "This certainly raised a red flag about Florida's vulnerability, if not the nation's," says Twomey. "But in the end the system worked as it was supposed to." In other words, South Florida's electrical grid proved a lot more resilient than its awful traffic grid. With reporting by Siobhan Morrissey/Miami

Thu, Feb. 28, 2008 : Power grid narrowly averted rolling blackouts : By R.A. DYER : AUSTIN -- Operators of the state power grid scrambled Tuesday night to keep the lights on after a sudden drop in West Texas wind threatened to cause rolling blackouts, officials confirmed Wednesday. At about 6:41 p.m. Tuesday, grid operators ordered a shutoff of power to so-called interruptible customers, which are industrial electric users who have agreed previously to forgo power in times of crisis. The move ensured continued stability of the grid after power dropped unexpectedly. Dottie Roark, a spokeswoman for the power grid, said a sudden uptick in electricity use coupled with other factors and a sudden drop in wind power caused the unexpected dip. As a result, grid officials immediately went to the second stage of its emergency blackout prevention plan. "This situation means that there is a heightened risk of ... regular customers being dropped through rotating outages, but that would occur only if further contingencies occur, and only as a last resort to avoid the risk of a complete blackout," the State Operations Center said in an e-mail notice to municipalities.
Feb. 28, 2008 : State almost saw rolling blackouts Tuesday night : AUSTIN ? Operators of the state electric grid were left scrambling to keep the lights on earlier this week after a sudden drop in West Texas wind threatened to cause rolling blackouts, officials said. Shortly before 7 p.m. Tuesday, grid operators ordered power shut off to so-called interruptible customers, which are industrial electric users who have agreed previously to forgo power in times of crisis. The move ensured continued stability of the grid after power dropped unexpectedly. The shortage was prompted largely by a near-total loss of wind generation, as well as a failure of several energy providers to reach scheduled production and a spike in electricity usage, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Thursday. As a result, grid officials immediately went to the second stage of its emergency blackout prevention plan. "This situation means that there is a heightened risk of ... regular customers being dropped through rotating outages, but that would occur only if further contingencies occur, and only as a last resort to avoid the risk of a complete blackout," the State Operations Center said in an e-mail notice to municipalities.

[VIDEO] Prospect of power cuts causes debate Mon, 25 Feb 2008 09:09a.m.
The prospect of power cuts over winter is shaping up to be an election issue. National has outlined its solution to the possibility of a power crisis, as hydro lakes dip toward levels not seen since the early 1990s. The party's energy spokesman Gerry Brownlee says more hydro, and the ongoing development of wind power, is what is needed. But the Green Party?s co-leader Jeanette Fitsimons says National is just scaremongering in election year.

07 February 2008 : Lightning strikes cut power in Sydney : Lightning has struck a power station in Sydney's south, leaving tens of thousands without electricity as a wild storm dumped more than 30mm of rain over parts of the city. The NSW Fire Brigades said the lightning bolt hit a transformer at Menai power station about 1.10pm (AEDT). Fire crews isolated the burning 132 kilovolt transformer from the power grid and used carbon dioxide to smother the flames. Energy Australia said the single lightning strike had temporarily cut off power to 15,000 people in the Sutherland area. A further 26,000 on Sydney's northern beaches also lost electricity due to lightning strikes as thunderstorms and heavy rain swept north towards the Hunter region. Energy Australia said power had been restored to all but 600 customers in the Mona Vale area by 3.30pm. Integral Energy said none of its south coast customers, where the storm first hit, had lost power. The Bureau of Meteorology warned this afternoon that flash flooding could also occur at Wollongong, Nowra and Katoomba. Forecaster Jake Phillips said more than 30mm of rain in half an hour had been recorded at Peakhurst, Woronora Dam and Lucas Heights. Residents of Sydney's western suburbs, where some 7,000 homes are still under tarpaulins awaiting repairs of storm damage earlier this summer, faced further damage with the sudden appearance of storm cells over the area, he said. The State Emergency Service (SES) issued a warning to stay away from creeks and storm drains and not to walk, ride bikes or drive through floodwater. The SES also advised the public to unplug computers and appliances, avoid using phones during the storm, stay indoors away from windows, and keep children and pets indoors. Mr Phillips said the storms had resulted from a humid air mass meeting a southerly change and had intensified due to the presence of colder air in the upper atmosphere. Even through neither strong winds nor hail were expected, torrential rain could quickly cause problems, he said. "It can be enough to cause flash-flooding problems, it just depends on the local area, whether there's a lot of concrete or what the drainage is like, those sorts of factors," Mr Phillips said. The storms were expected to dissipate by tonight, he said.

Longer blackouts in new power cut plan : Anna Cox : February 28 2008 : Joburg residents can expect to experience power cuts lasting about four hours from March 5. But these will be less frequent and done according to a specific schedule. The council, together with Eskom, on Wednesday released a detailed plan informing residents of the times of their four-hour cuts. These can be expected between three to four times a week. The city has been divided into blocks. The bad news is that hospitals, clinics and other emergency services can no longer be isolated and spared from the cuts because they are now being done in larger "blocks". Vally Padayachee, City Power's director of engineering operations, said there had been consultations with customers who said they would prefer longer but less frequent cuts. They had also requested predictability, which was being done through the schedule of planned outages.

Emissions deadline 'a risk to gas supply' : Nigel Wilson, Energy writer - March 01, 2008 : THE Rudd Government faces the first significant challenge to the timing of its planned carbon emissions trading scheme, with gas producers warning supplies to houses and businesses could be disrupted if they are forced to meet the 2010 deadline. Gas producers are likely to be key contributors to reducing Australia's carbon footprint as the country moves towards cleaner gas-fired power. But ExxonMobil, BHP Billiton and Santos, which together account for about 85 per cent of the eastern states' gas market, have told the Department of Climate Change they will not be able to install sufficient new measuring and monitoring equipment in time. "If you added all the work together and did it all at once, it would have a similar impact on production as Longford," one company official said, referring to the 1998 explosion and fire that resulted in Victorians having cold showers for two weeks. "Even if we had begun putting in this equipment four years ago, we would not meet the 2010 carbon trading deadline." The equipment is needed to accurately calculate the level of carbon emissions from gas production so that carbon offsets and trading credits can be determined. Last month, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong reiterated the Government's plan to introduce a "cap and trade" emissions trading scheme, similar to that operating in Europe, by 2010 to give business a financial incentive to cut emissions. Such schemes set an overall environmental cap by issuing a set number of permits, and allowing polluting entities to trade permits, putting a price on carbon. The Weekend Australian has confirmed that gas production companies have approached the Government, saying that the installation of the new equipment will be a costly and time-consuming exercise. Gas is expected to be a substantial contributor to cutting greenhouse emissions because its carbon content is about half that of coal and it will fuel new gas-fired electricity generation. The measurement problem mainly affects long-established production facilities in Bass Strait and in the Cooper Basin in outback South Australia. Woodside, which operates the North West Shelf domestic gas operation in Western Australia, said it had been working with the Australian Greenhouse Office for several years on measurement devices and expected it would have no difficulty with the deadline. But it's understood the federal Government has been told that the consequences of a rigid emissions trading deadline for Bass Strait is that there could be rolling shutdowns for some time. ExxonMobil, parent of Esso Australia, and its partner BHP Billiton deliver gas to Melbourne and Sydney from the Bass Strait fields off Gippsland.

Green lawns could lead to brownouts : With wide swaths of the country drying up, water-hungry utilities scramble to meet surging energy and water demand. : By Steve Hargreaves, CNNMoney.com staff writer : February 14 2008 : As drought grips large portions of the U.S., the link between water and energy consumption is coming into focus. HOUSTON (CNNMoney.com) -- Whisky is for drinkin', water is for fightin'. : It's a saying from the Old West, but one invoked Thursday when talking about electricity at Cambridge Energy Research Associates' annual energy conference in Houston. Power generation takes water. Pumping water takes power. As the nation struggles to meet electricity demand - expected to surge 50 percent in the next 30 years - big sections of the country are suffering from drought conditions. "We're going to have both water and power shortages, maybe in areas where we aren't used to them," said Peter Gleick, President of the Pacific Institute, an environmental research organization. "Atlanta in the last few years is a good example of that." Most people don't realize how closely power and water are linked. In California, the water pumps that keep the Los Angeles area hydrated are the single largest users of power in the state, according to Gleick. Running a hot water faucet there for five minutes uses as much energy as keeping a 60-watt light bulb on for 14 hours, he said. Gleick said that California could achieve 95 percent of its energy conservation goals 58 percent more cheaply by targeting water consumption rather than power consumption.

19th FEBRUARY 2008 : Canadian cities join global warming lights off plan : Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver have joined two dozen cities around the world that plan to turn their lights off for one hour later this year in a worldwide campaign to raise awareness about global warming. Last March, Sydney dimmed its skyline when residents, businesses and the local government took part in the first "Earth Hour" event that asked people to think about cutting their energy use. Under the plan, on March 29, lights in each city will be switched off for one hour at 8:00 p.m. Andy Ridley, the executive director of the event, estimated that up to 30 million people in participating cities could become involved in this year's event, and organizers were hopeful of recruiting more.

"Even though the response has been overwhelming, we're still hopeful that more cities will come on board," Ridley said in a statement. "Climate change is a truly global issue and people around the world are demanding action."

The Green Choice for London : As Londoners prepare to make their choice of a Major for the capital on the 1st May, they face a choice of candidates all keen to promote their green credentials. Ken Livingstone : The incumbent Mayor and Labour candidate, Ken has proved hugely successful in promoting a green agenda that has seen increased bus use against the national trend, and Britain?s first congestion charge. He has pushed a wider greener agenda of reducing carbon emissions from offices and houses within the capital. Ken is in favour of carbon rationing: "I think every citizen in the world should have the right to their share of carbon, at whatever the globally-sustainable level. That would mean a huge shift of power, both within nations and between nations. "

15th FEBRUARY 2008 : Chile: Drought Raises Likelihood of Energy Rationing : Byline: Cecilia Vargas : The severe drought affecting Chile has caused an agricultural emergency in 50 rural districts in the centre of the country, and large sectors of the economy are concerned about possible electricity rationing in March. The "La Ni?a" climate phenomenon has over half the country dangling by a thread. Persistence of cold water in the Pacific ocean and high atmospheric pressure are preventing rain-bearing fronts from entering central and southern areas. Last year the weather was cold, but rainfall was scanty. Consequently, the water levels at hydroelectric dams are at an all-time low. In addition, one of the largest hydroelectric power stations, owned by the Colb?n company, is out of service due to a fire late last year. The government of President Michelle Bachelet has invested about 12 million dollars in the 50 farming districts where the emergency has been declared. Bales of forage have been delivered to small ranchers, and water for human consumption to water containers or by tanker-truck.

12th FEBRUARY 2008 : 'Blackout emergency measures working' : By Deon de Lange and Siyabonga Mkwanazi : A collective effort by South Africans to reduce electricity consumption is starting to bear fruit, according to Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin. Emergency measures introduced recently were having a "significant" impact, and the country was currently saving more than the immediate target of 10 percent electricity, he said on Monday. He attributed this to industries and business "coming to the table". Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said that as part of the government's energy efficiency campaign, compact fluorescent light bulbs will be given to the poor either, for free or at a subsidised price. This will be followed by a smart-metering programme to manage electricity by remote control. Consumers who exceed quotas set by Eskom would be disconnected, she warned.

11th FEBRUARY 2008 : Return of the blackout : Crime fear as councils switch off streetlights to save the planet : By DAVID DERBYSHIRE : Thousands of street lamps in suburban areas are being switched off after midnight. The blackouts are being imposed by councils to cut energy bills and meet climate change targets. Buckinghamshire is carrying out one of the most radical trials of the new approach. More than 1,700 lights, which illuminate 25 miles of roads, will soon be switched off completely. The council claims the scheme will save ?100,000 and nearly 600 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year. But the Government-backed blackouts have provoked anger from police leaders and motoring organisations.

11th FEBRUARY 2008 : Fears over street lamp blackout : Street lights on a Hampshire estate are being switched off after midnight as part of a trial aimed at reducing carbon emissions. But a Fishlake Meadows estate resident in Romsey said the blackout of 400 lights makes her feel unsafe and has caused an increase in crime. Between 300 and 400 homes in 14 streets are part of the trial. The county council said it is only one of several methods being trialled during a six-month period. Judith Giles, who lives on the Fishlake Meadows estate, said: "We're not very happy at all. "We're frightened that as time goes on, it will get worse because people know there's no lighting in the area."

12th FEBRUARY 2008 : NO CITY MIDNIGHT BLACKOUT : OFFICIAL : Fears of a midnight blackout have been ruled out in Plymouth. Councils in other parts of the country are pulling the plug on street lights late at night. It was reported yesterday that Buckinghamshire is experimenting with switching off street lights after midnight to save energy. The council there claims that switching off 1,700 lights will save ?100,000 and nearly 600 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. Plymouth City Council said it had considered the approach but concluded that switching lights off was more suited to rural areas than urban streets, and the kind of 24-hour society that city life encourages. "We welcome any research that aims to combat climate change but prefer to take a more all-encompassing approach to safe, energy-efficient and effective lighting," spokeswoman Ann Knight said.

12th FEBRUARY 2008 : ?No blackout plans here? : CASH-saving plans to turn off street lights in the middle of the night will not be adopted in Lancashire, council bosses have said. Controversial schemes in other parts of the country have been introduced that sees thousands of street lamps in residential areas being switched off after midnight. The blackouts are being imposed by councils to cut energy bills and meet climate change targets. But both Blackburn with Darwen Council and Lancashire County Council said that the trials are not going to take place here. Elsewhere the blackouts have provoked anger from police leaders and the motoring organ-isations, who say that good street lighting reduces crime, makes the public feel safe and reduces the risk of road traffic accidents.

11th FEBRUARY 2008 : Booby-trapped oil truck kills four soldiers, causes total blackout By: KUNA : A heavy explosion of a booby-trapped oil truck killed four soldiers and caused a total blackout to the country's northern areas. Aziz Sultan, the official spokesman of the Ministry of Electricity, told Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) that an explosion of a booby-trapped truck near Al-Mosul power plant killed four soldiers and caused interruption of high-voltage energy plant. He explained that the Mosul station located in the province of Nineveh feeds the network 400 MW of electric power where its stopp had caused a total blackout. For his part, spokesman for the command of Mosul Brigadier Khalid Abdul Sattar in contact with (KUNA) here said that the booby-trapped truck that exploded had fuel tanks at the end of it.

11th FEBRUARY 2008 : Blackout to Worsen as Power Generation Drops : From Patrick Ugeh in Abuja : The epileptic power supply being experienced at present in the country may further worsen as power generation has dropped. Honorary Strategic Adviser to President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua on Energy, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, has said at the weekend that the generating capacity of the nation's 10 power stations has dropped drastically. This means that total darkness may even be under way. Lukman said Nigeria's quest for a stable power supply would remain a mirage unless concrete efforts were put in place to save the power sector from collapse. In a paper entitled: ''Confronting Nigeria's Energy Challenge: The imperative of immediate reforms,'' which he delivered at the pre-convocation lecture of the Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi at the weekend, Lukman said apart from Okpai power station commissioned last year and operating at 90 per cent capacity, the nine others were operating at 30 per cent installed capacity.

Monday, 11 February 2008 : Cable cutter 'lucky to be alive' : A 'thief' who tried to cut power lines on the border of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire was lucky to be alive, an electricity distributor said. Central Networks said the person would at least have had severe hand burns. Engineers found a hacksaw embedded in a live 11,000 voltage cable with a lit blowtorch nearby after being called to Creswell late on Saturday night. A total of 795 customers were cut off, but power was restored after an hour-and-a-half. "We can only assume they left in a great hurry or they were injured and were dragged away by an accomplice." Phil Wilson, Central Networks Phil Wilson, Customer Operations Manager with Central Networks, said: "The sheer stupidity of cutting through power cables should be glaringly obvious to everyone. "At the very least putting the hacksaw through the cable would have created an almighty bang and the line would have burned for quite a few seconds, showering them with molten copper. "The thief left their tools behind so we can only assume they left in a great hurry or they were injured and were dragged away by an accomplice. "They could quite easily have lost their life. I can't stress highly enough that it's just not worth it." Crimestoppers is offering a ?1,000 reward for information leading to the successful prosecution and conviction of those responsible. Police in Derbyshire have appealed for witnesses.
Shock horror for would-be power cable thief : Tue Feb 12, 2008 : LONDON (Reuters) - Police in central England are hunting for a badly scorched would-be copper power cable thief after finding a hacksaw embedded in an 11,000 volt power cable on Saturday night. The thief, who also left a lit blow torch at the scene, is expected to be badly charred, spiky haired and not exactly the brightest bulb in the socket. "The sheer stupidity of cutting through power cables should be glaringly obvious to everyone," said Phil Wilson, customer operations manager with local power company Central Networks. "At the very least putting the hacksaw through the cable would have created an almighty bang and the line would have burned for quite a few seconds, showering them with molten copper... We can only assume they left in a great hurry or they were injured and were dragged away by an accomplice." But searches of local hospitals have so far not found the culprit, a spokeswoman for Derbyshire Police said on Tuesday. "Maybe they had a lucky escape," she said. "We don't have any leads yet." Nearly 800 customers in the village of Creswell were cut off when the wannabe copper thief sawed into their power supply on Saturday night, but Central Networks got the lights back on within a few hours. Copper prices have more than doubled in the last four years as China has gobbled up huge quantities of it, sparking a wave of copper thefts across the globe from South Africa and the United States to Italy and Britain. Thieves targeting power lines and electricity substations have already led to two fatalities in Britain and many serious injuries, while leaving thousands without power.
Copper thieves cause havoc for commuters : 28 May 2007 : The British Transport police have launched Operation Drum to crack down on cable theft and are liaising with Network Rail...
Tuesday, 19 February 2008 : Cable theft cuts telephone lines : Hundreds of homes in a Cambridgeshire village have lost telephone links after thieves stole cabling. Underground cables at Wallman's Lane in Swavesey was cut overnight on Monday. Police are now conducting extra patrols in the village while BT engineers work to repair the service, but is not known when it will be restored. Until lines are repaired, residents are being asked to check on vulnerable villagers who may rely on their telephones for help.
Man attempts cable theft. Gets burned...
Copper theft clampdown - Wakefield Express : Monday's police activity was triggered by the rise in trackside cable theft, which is being driven by soaring prices of metal worlwide.
Theft of cabling hits old people and firms - Cambridge NewsPolice have confirmed that a cable theft also took place from a field near the B645 between Little Staughton and Kimbolton between Sunday and Monday.
Cable theft to blame for ADSL problems : 4 Feb 2008 : Cable theft and international network failure was to blame for slow throughput experienced by ADSL users on Monday.
Ghana: GT Calls for Support to Combat Cable Theft : Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra) : 19 February 2008 : David Allan Paintsil & Magdalene Sey : Ghana Telecom (GT), the only Ghanaian owned telecommunication network in Ghana, has called for collective support from all Ghanaians to assist in the fight against cable theft. The call was made by the Central Regional Manager of GT, Mr Joseph Tinagyei-Gyimah at a press soiree in Cape Coast on Thursday. According to Mr Tinagyei-Gyimah, even though thecompany has worked on a 100% revenue collection strategy in the past years, the cable theft menace hash indered their efforts in providing efficient and uninterrupted services to its clients. He disclosed that the activities of cable thieves did not only tarnish the image of the company but also rendered a huge economic loss to the state,indicating that in 2006, GT lost GH? 460,000 as a result of cable thefts.
IOL: Rampant cable theft is fuelling crisis : The power crisis is being exacerbated by rampant cable theft which has cost the country more than R1-billion in the last few years.

8th FEBRUARY 2008 : Tajikistan rations power supplies to capital in big freeze : by Staff Writers : Dushanbe : Tajikistan's authorities drastically rationed electricity supplies to the capital Dushanbe on Friday in response to a severe cold snap that has paralysed the ex-Soviet republic's power grid. Residents of Dushanbe, which has a population estimated at 500,000 to one million, will receive only 10 hours of electricity a day, although government buildings in the centre are not affected, Sharifkhon Samiyev, the head of state electricity company Barki Tozhik, said on state television. Outlying regions in the mountainous Central Asian country of 7.2 million people will now receive at most 90 minutes a day of electricity, down from the four-hour limit imposed since October. "The population of our country faces huge problems in ensuring heating and power due to the abnormal freeze in our country," Samiyev said. The capital had previously been spared rationing. Winter temperatures that usually hover around zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) have plunged to below freezing, reaching minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus four degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas. The cold has iced over a river feeding the lake that drives the Nurek hydroelectric power plant, with an impact on supplies right across the country. Wells and other sources of water supply have also been disrupted.

4th FEBRUARY 2008 : Energy crisis forces Pakistan to mull five-day working week : By Muhammad Najeeb, Islamabad : Pakistan may once again resort to a five-day working week because of an increasing energy shortage, an official at the prime minister's secretariat said Monday. "Discussions have begun to cut one working day and start a five-day week mainly because of the energy crisis," the official told IANS. After trying out various measures to overcome the crisis, caretaker Prime Minister Mohammedmian Soomro directed the government to hold consultations with the provinces and trade and industry bodies for introducing a five-day working week. Presiding over a meeting last week to discuss proposals of the Energy Conservation Agency (Enercon) to minimise electricity wastage, the premier stressed that a decision about adopting a five-day week would be taken after consulting all stakeholders. Official estimates show that a five-day week would save 828 MW of electricity, which could be used in industry and agriculture. The measure has been tested twice earlier, but on both occasions the government had to revert to a six-day week.

28th JANUARY 2008 : South African power cuts : Electricity shortages sweeping South Africa meant visitors travelling up Cape Town?s Table Mountain last week were trapped in their cable car. Anxious tourists do nothing for the country?s image but the ramifications of the widespread power cuts are even more serious. The blame for the outages lies in part with recent heavy rain, but the roots of the crisis lie much deeper. Electricity demand has been growing strongly on the back of healthy economic performance. Meanwhile, the government, via the state-owned electricity supplier Eskom, has failed to invest adequately in generation capacity.

27th JANUARY 2008 : Britain 'facing energy shortfall' : By Richard Black : Environment correspondent, BBC News website : Power lines could have too little to carry in five years, the report warns Britain is likely to face a shortfall in electricity generation within five to seven years, a report concludes. Energy and environment consultancy firm Inenco says that the number of nuclear and coal plants coming out of service over the period makes shortages likely. Old coal plants, whose operating hours are limited under European legislation, have been running more than expected because of higher gas prices. But other analysts say new plants can be built quickly and shortages avoided. Earlier this month, the government announced it was prepared to approve applications to build new nuclear reactors, but anticipates it would be 10 years before they come on stream. "For black-outs to occur, pretty much everything would have to go wrong." Rob Gross, UKERC. "With the recent announcement about new nuclear stations, there seemed to be a collective sigh of relief," said Inenco's deputy managing director Michael Abbott. "We believe that demand overtakes supply somewhere between 2012 and 2015, creating a serious 'generation gap'." In its report, to be released later this week, Inenco warns that in the extreme case, shortages could materialise around the time of the London Olympics in 2012. By that time, the last of the ageing fleet of Magnox nuclear reactors will have closed...

21st JANUARY 2008 : Gaza plunged into darkness as Israeli fuel blockade takes effect : Blackouts as only power plant is forced to shut : Policy directly linked to rocket attacks, says Israel : Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem : Parts of Gaza were pitched into darkness last night after its only power plant was shut down following a move by Israel to halt fuel shipments under its new closure of the small, overcrowded strip of land. As fuel supplies ran out, the plant was shut down. Earlier, queues formed on the streets and at petrol stations and warehouses selling cooking gas as the shortages began to take effect. Blackouts have stretched to 12 hours a day in recent weeks. The closure came after a week of the most intense conflict between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza for more than a year. Nearly 40 Palestinians have been killed in the past week, at least 10 of them civilians...Israeli officials said the policy was directly linked to the rocket attacks. "If they stop the rockets today, everything would go back to normal," said Arye Mekel, a foreign ministry spokesman.

15th JANUARY 2008 : Western England braced for more floods : Last July, western England and the Midlands witnessed the worst flooding since 1947, with more than 4,000 homes and 500 firms across Gloucestershire damaged. The Association of British Insurers estimated at the time that the cost of claims would reach the ?2bn mark. Wales and the south west of England accounted for most of the warnings yesterday, with others scattered around East Anglia, the Midlands, the north east of England and Scotland. Emergency services and councils geared up for the worst, clearing debris from roads and inspecting main roads. The rail network and main roads were affected throughout the day, with the M5 worst hit. A Tewkesbury resident, Julie Irwin, 42, said the new crisis was endangering her town's "mental health". Her family continue to live in a caravan. She said: "Anxiety levels here are very high, more so because we've seen very little action from the council to clear the drains or the brooks. "On Friday many houses by Tewkesbury Abbey were just four inches from flooding. I am still living in a caravan, as are many others - they don't float very well. I just feel we are sitting ducks." Gloucestershire came close to a blackout last summer, when an electricity substation at Walham, near Gloucester, was threatened. But a spokeswoman for the National Grid said permanent flood defences were now in place.

7th NOVEMBER 2007 : British Energy Falls on Corrosion at Second Plant : By Alexander Kwiatkowski and Paul Dobson : British Energy Group Plc, the U.K.'s biggest power producer, fell in London trading, extending losses after the discovery of corroded wires at two of its eight nuclear plants forced their indefinite closure. An inspection at the Heysham-1 power station found a corroded wire at one of that plant's two units, the company said in a statement yesterday. That followed an Oct. 22 announcement that it discovered a similar fault at a reactor at its Hartlepool plant. All four reactors at the two plants are now shut. British Energy loses revenue when it stops producing power from its stations. The discovery of cracked boiler pipes at its Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B stations last year caused prolonged halts and reduced the company's share price. Chief Executive Officer Bill Coley has vowed to reduce the amount of unplanned shutdowns. ``We now expect prolonged outages'' that will take ``months, rather than weeks,'' London-based analysts at UBS AG including Andrew Wright said today in a note to clients. That may cut British Energy's output by as much as 8 terawatt-hours...

Biggest blackout caused by 1 amp fuse : Terry Macalister : The Guardian, Thursday September 11 2003 : Britain's biggest blackout for 25 years, which plunged large parts of London into darkness, was the result of a one amp fuse being fitted in place of a 5,000 amp fuse at a substation. National Grid Transco, which runs the transmission network, yesterday came up with the explanation for the 37-minute blackout on August 28 following an investigation ordered by the government. Roger Urwin, the chief executive, denied it was the kind of "demonstrable negligence" that would put the privatised utility in line for a ?100m fine from the industry regulator. He said the fuse - which costs ?2,000 - was fitted by a contractor from a firm he refused to name. There is no intention to take action against Grid employees who were meant to check the work. However, Mr Urwin admitted that his company could face legal action from around 100 major customers who rely on its services. The fuse was a "shoebox-sized" protection switch at a substation in Wimbledon that shut down automatically but prematurely when a surge of current came through. An alarm had already indicated a problem with a transformer at Hurst in Kent - leaving south London dependent on Wimbledon. The shutdown there led to the loss of 20% of the capital's electricity affecting 410,000 homes and businesses at 6.20 in the evening, and paralysing tube and rail services.


4 November 2006

1 February 2007
Five Minutes Respite for the Planet (France)

31 March 2007
Earth Hour

21 June 2007
Lights Out London

19 September 2007
Lights Off Utah

23 September 2007

13 October 2007
Unplug America

20 October 2007
Lights Out San Francisco - Lights Out Los Angeles The Big Switch Off October 6 - 7 2007 8pm to 8pm http://www.thebigswitchoff.com/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Switch_Off Switch If Off http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/switchitoff 2nd Nov 2007




How To Enjoy A Candle Night



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