Watch your power grid crash online!

Watch your power grid crash online!

Watch your power grid crash online!

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Aug. 18 2003 5:57 PM

Check Your Megawatt Load Online!

Just don't make the grid crash by doing so.

Chatterbox's favorite new Web site is the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Current Energy report, which shows how close to crashing the power grids are at any given moment in four different regions. One of these regions is New York, which experienced an enormous blackout last week because of some as-yet-unidentified event in Ohio. (Mrs. O'Leary's cow has been brought in for questioning.) As Chatterbox writes this, the latest reading (5:15 p.m. EDT) shows the Greater New York grid to have leveled off a little below 25,000 megawatts, or about 10,000 megawatts and some change below maximum capacity. When the workday ends in a couple of hours, that load should drop precipitously. So New York is out of the woods for today—assuming not too many New Yorkers turn on their computers to check their current megawatt load. (Werner Heisenberg, call your office.)

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California, on the other hand, is living dangerously, as Californians are wont to do. As of 4:57 EDT, the California load was colliding with online capacity just above 40,000 megawatts and heading north, where it is expected to peak about 3,000 megawatts below maximum capacity. (Online capacity is the power California generates itself. California routinely imports power from other Western states.)

The PJM Interconnection, which serves Chatterbox and many others in Washington, D.C., New Jersey, Central and Eastern Pennsylvania, Western Maryland, and Delaware, and which came out of last week's cascading power relatively unscathed, had leveled off around 52,000 megawatts as of 5:25 p.m. EDT. That's about 15,000 megawatts below maximum capacity. In Texas, as of 5:25 EDT, the load is just starting to level off a little below 60,000 megawatts, which is more-than-comfortably below its maximum capacity of around 77,000 megawatts. There's supposed to be current data for New England, too, but it isn't available just now.

Chatterbox has nothing insightful to say about any of this. He just thought you'd want to know.