I was a bit surprised to see the magnitude and duration (it's still ongoing) of yesterday's widespread power outage in Southern California, Baja Mexico, and points eastward going as far as Yuma, Arizona.
To me, the surprising thing is that a single point of failure could create such a huge and lasting effect. No doubt, there will be lessons learned from this by event by the many that will study it. The failure was apparently a procedural error during a maintenance operation at a power substation in Arizona. I have a few thoughts generally related to our recently published reports on power protection products.
- If auto manufacturers or third parties could design some add-on hardware to Prius and other similar vehicles that would provide temporary generator / inverter function to power a few essential items at the owner's home or business, that would be a big seller.
- This event should capture the attention of both grid/power station operators and terrorists. A power grid has components that are hard to protect like remote substations and transmission line towers. A single point of failure should never have this large an impact.
- Businesses that invest in UPS, power protection, and standby generators will be doing tremendous business during events like these. That upfront expense with questionable ROI looks pretty good now.
- Businesses that at least have protection on their POS systems would have been able to sell their perishable or suddenly in demand items more easily unlike the others that could only take cash.
- People generally don't carry a lot of cash anymore. In the Southwest this morning, people without cash may never make that mistake again.
- In the Southwest, and even in places that didn't lose power, you might think about not using and unplugging any computers, TVs, or expensive gadgets unless you have a really good surge suppressor.
- My thoughts go out to those in the affected areas that have essential medical support devices in their homes, no doubt there are valiant efforts to make sure these devices and the people that need them are in good condition. The widespread blackout has caused massive traffic tie ups that surely made these efforts much harder.
- The markets for power protection and backup generators will increase particularly in the Southwest US.
- This was a good test of the emergency shutdown procedures and systems at the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station (SONGS). It looks like they passed.
That's my quick take on it. I would be happy to hear other opinions on this subject. I may check back later once we see what happens next and find out more details of the corrective actions.