DC, mid-Atlantic region could be without power several more days

posted at 11:21 am on July 2, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Last week, Energy Secretary Stephen Chu insisted that the government needed to subsidize electric vehicles to make them cheap enough to transform personal transportation away from fossil fuels.  This week, people in Washington DC, Virginia, and several other states may beg to differ:

A weekend without electricity was already trying for millions in the sweltering, storm-swept mid-Atlantic region. But Monday morning brings another grim challenge when many embark on a difficult commute over roads with darkened stoplights and likely mass-transit delays.

To alleviate congestion around Baltimore and Washington, federal and state officials gave many workers the option of staying home Monday. Federal agencies will be open in Washington, but non-emergency employees have the option of taking leave or working from home. Maryland’s governor also gave state workers wide leeway for staying out of the office. …

All 86 Metro subway stations in the Washington area were open, but delays were possible Monday because power was being routed through the system to serve some areas where power was not being supplied by commercial utilities, spokesman Dan Stessel said. Some stations in Montgomery County were running on backup power, he said, meaning escalators may not work — bad news for commuters braving the stifling heat. Metro bus riders were expected to experience significant delays.

As of late Sunday, nearly 2.7 million people remained without power in several states from Virginia to New Jersey and as far west as Ohio. That left many to contend with stifling homes and spoiled food as temperatures approached or exceeded 100 degrees, and utility officials said the power will likely be out for several more days. Since Friday, severe weather has been blamed for at least 17 deaths, most from trees falling on homes and cars.

Thus we see the wisdom of energy diversity.  Light rail and subways run on electricity, which is only stable and plentiful enough to supply that kind of power because of the use of coal and natural gas.  Cars, on the other hand, generally run on gasoline in this country, and that gives them a value in emergency situations.  They can run independently of a failure in the electric grid, and have the range necessary to go further out for refueling when running low; most internal-combustion vehicles can go 300 miles on a “full charge,” while their electric-only counterparts can only go one-tenth that distance.  That’s usually enough of a range to get families to shelter where power exists to run air conditioning and provide food storage.  Even hybrids can manage this much, and this same argument would be true of natural-gas-powered vehicles.

On the other hand, those who have no other transportation options except electric are stuck inside the emergency area.  Their vehicles don’t have the range to get them out of the disaster area, which means they have to be dependent on rationed supplies if their food supplies run low.  They can’t easily get to distribution centers for that, either, at least not more than a couple of times, which means that emergency response teams eventually have to bring in gasoline-powered vehicles to reach them in a disaster.

This kind of multiple-resource system has a lot of value, and we should consider that when arguing whether we need to spend massive amounts on subsidies to eliminate the diversity — especially when electricity production comes from less-efficient resources, and other parts of our energy policy will restrict the amount of electricity produced in this country.

Here’s another example of foolish government subsidies being spent in defiance of reality:

The Dallas area leads the state in the number of public electric-vehicle chargers, with plans to double its nearly 100 stations by the end of the year.

But as companies such as Kroger announce campaigns to install more, parking spots designated for charging remain vacant at many locations and chargers stand idle, sometimes for weeks at a time.

“There’s no point” to public chargers, said Ron Swanson, president of the North Texas Electric Auto Association. “My gas station is my garage. I’m there 12 hours a day, so there’s plenty of time to get charged up.”

Many of the chargers are paid for using government funds. More than 70 percent of them, installed through Ecotality Inc., are free to use, but each costs the company $5,000 in installation and equipment costs.

That’s covered in part by $114.8 million in grants from the Department of Energy, according to Dave Aasheim, Texas Ecotality manager. Businesses with the company’s chargers are usually reimbursed for installation, leaving Department of Energy money to foot much of the bill.

No one’s using the chargers Dallas already has — and so the obvious answer is to build more of them.


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Derecho:

Behind Washington, D.C.’s destructive thunderstorm outbreak,
June 29, 2012
*************
Posted at 02:15 PM ET, 06/30/2012

Between 9:30 and 11 p.m. Friday night, one of the most destructive complexes of thunderstorms in memory swept through the entire D.C. area. Packing wind gusts of 60-80 mph, the storm produced extensive damage, downing hundreds of trees, and leaving more than 1 million area-residents without power.

Blue marks indicate reports of damaging wind. Black squares indicate winds of over 75 mph. (National Weather Service) Racing along at speeds over 60 mph, the bowing line of thunderstorms formed west of Chicago around 11 a.m. and by midnight approached the Atlantic ocean. It left a massive trail of destruction spanning from northern Illinois to the Delmarva Peninsula. The National Weather Service has logged well over 800 reports of damaging winds.

This kind of fast-moving, long-lived, large, and violent thunderstorm complex is known as a derecho.
(More….)
==========

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/derecho-behind-washington-dcs-destructive-thunderstorm-outbreak-june-29-2012/2012/06/30/gJQA22O7DW_blog.html

canopfor on July 2, 2012 at 4:54 PM

uh, you have to have electricity to run gas pumps – found this out during Katrina…

rock the casbah on July 2, 2012 at 4:57 PM

But, there is nothing going on with the weather. It’s all a scam by Al Gore or something.

No, I am not a climate expert. Unlike, many of the posters around here claim to be. I don’t know what is going on. But, anyone that says nothing is going on is an idiot.

Moesart on July 2, 2012 at 12:35 PM

The “scam” by Al Gore and others is to take normal climatic oscillations and pretend that they are caused or exacerbated by human activities, despite the complete lack of correlation between atmospheric CO2 and long-term temperature trends. The people you refer to as “idiots” are in fact nothing of the kind — they are smart enough to understand that the climate ALWAYS changes over time, in cycles that number in the tens, hundreds, thousands and millions of years and overlap to create short-term local patterns. It is only an ill-informed individual that will fall for Gore’s AGW scam and misinterpret short-term local variations in climate as a global, long-term, one-way trend.

Here in the Pacific Northwest the last two years have been colder and wetter than normal. Right now, on my deck, it is 60 degrees (yes, that’s a six followed by a zero, no typo there). The long-term average for this area is in the 70′s, yet you won’t hear me hollering about the coming Ice Age.

HTL on July 2, 2012 at 5:09 PM

uh, you have to have electricity to run gas pumps – found this out during Katrina…

rock the casbah on July 2, 2012 at 4:57 PM

You need electricity to run modern gas pumps. If push comes to shove we can bring back gravity fed old school pumps.

What’s your alternative to the electric vehicle? Fred Flinstone power.

Spliff Menendez on July 2, 2012 at 7:27 PM

I got caught in that, going to my Mom’s house to take care of something in Kentucky, riding my motorcycle from North Carolina. You never really appreciate something until it’s gone. There were gas stations everywhere, filled with gas in their tanks, but no electricity to run the gas pumps. Had to be thousands stranded, there were at least 100 people stuck at the same gas station I was at.

Some darn fine people working at that gas station, they opened their doors and sold drinks and food on a cash basis, using calculators to figure it all up.

For me, I was close enough to Kentucky, I called a family member and told them I had all expenses covered, just give me the reciepts and I’ll pay it back once we reach an ATM, buy a 5 gallon gas can and bring it to me.

I was one of the lucky one’s. I drove into it and didn’t even know the storm had happened, and you can’t tell from the interstate in the daytime that is is no eletricity. I had to wait just 4 hours for help to arrive. I’m sure there are people still there waiting for help in one way or another.

Hog Wild on July 2, 2012 at 7:30 PM

If push comes to shove we can bring back gravity fed old school pumps.

Spliff Menendez on July 2, 2012 at 7:27 PM

What is a gravity fed old school pump and how does it work?

Oldnuke on July 2, 2012 at 8:08 PM

Right on Cap’n!

servative on July 2, 2012 at 8:33 PM

Why fill up at home? You’re paying full price there.

“There’s no point” to public chargers, said Ron Swanson, president of the North Texas Electric Auto Association. “My gas station is my garage. I’m there 12 hours a day, so there’s plenty of time to get charged up.”

Why not use a “free” public filling station where everybody else is taxed to pay for it as well?

Many of the chargers are paid for using government funds. More than 70 percent of them, installed through Ecotality Inc., are free to use, but each costs the company $5,000 in installation and equipment costs.

NTropy on July 2, 2012 at 9:01 PM

forced green.
how do you like it.
cut down a tree, rub some rocks together . . .

mydogwonthunt on July 2, 2012 at 9:38 PM

what will this do for our carbon credits?

mydogwonthunt on July 2, 2012 at 9:39 PM

What is a gravity fed old school pump and how does it work?

Oldnuke on July 2, 2012 at 8:08 PM

http://media.liveauctiongroup.net/i/8586/9896326_1.jpg?v=8CD4500EA540780

Works just like it says on the tin. Gas flows down from the clear cylinder via gravity.

MelonCollie on July 3, 2012 at 12:43 AM

The government’s brainless and ignorant response to this real weather-caused energy emergency in its “home” gives us insight into how the government will run healthcare:

* no useful response
* inappropriate remedies
* government workers take no responsibility
* people will die

Despite the fact that things will get desperate as citizens run out of food and food suppliers run out of distribution and storage options in Washington DC and other major cities along the East coast, the federal government has absolutely no plan to deal with this crisis.

Instead, federal workers, including Obama, are going on vacation without taking any remedial action…while the problem festers!!! More people will die as a direct result of their criminal irresponsibility.

landlines on July 3, 2012 at 12:53 AM

Works just like it says on the tin. Gas flows down from the clear cylinder via gravity.

MelonCollie on July 3, 2012 at 12:43 AM

How does the gas get into the clear cylinder? I’m betting a hand pump. That would make it an old school manual pump having little to do with gravity. Matter of fact the reason for putting the gas into the glass cylinder first instead of directly into the car’s gas tank was so the customer could see that the gas was clean.

Oldnuke on July 3, 2012 at 2:43 AM

I’m sorry, it is not an emergency until I see Shep Smith up on some soap box screaming for the federal gov’t to do something for these poor black citizens.

Fuquay Steve on July 3, 2012 at 2:28 PM

I may be simplistic, but if the gas station has the hookups, the owner could bring in a generator and pump gas until his generator gave out or his tanks ran dry. He could thereby service up to dozens or scores of cars in a given period of time.

If his was a charging station for EVs, he’d be limited to the capacity of his generator (as far as how many EVs he could charge) and he’d have to supply that power for as long as it took to charge the EVs. Naturally a service station would probably not have EV charging hookups except for say customers who were having their EVs worked on, but then look at a block of EV charging stations and imagine the continuous flow of power it would require to recharge the EVs.

A much bigger problem than running a tanker to a station (of course that has the power source to pump it once delivered).

Russ808 on July 3, 2012 at 2:34 PM

Where is FEMA?
Interesting how the MSM (Manipulated Stories Machine) isn’t howling about FEMA and their deficiencies. They were pretty fired up about it after Katrina.
Take if from me, the relationship between FEMA and the WH will not be mentioned on any alphabet network.
I recall the Bush nomination being cavity searched by the media by this time. He was a horse trainer and where he banked, etc.
Now? Who cares.
Obamugabe wants the blacks to ‘cover his back’ and for newlyweds to forgoe their ‘doweries’ … just send the check to his re-election campaign. Hopium for everyone.

Missilengr on July 3, 2012 at 7:36 PM

I notice it said Dallas, not Houston. We got better sense (well, OK, I’m not including the mayor in that).

georgeofthedesert on July 3, 2012 at 11:46 PM

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