Archive for September, 2011

OPALCO Studies Broadband Expansion

Friday, September 30th, 2011

What Role Should OPALCO Play to support the ongoing community effort to make higher-speed, more reliable broadband available in San Juan County?
partnering with emergency services and public safety providers, the Economic Development Council and other stakeholders in the County to study how county-wide access to broadband (high-speed internet) services would benefit our members. Please watch for a green survey postcard in the mail that asks for your input on what role OPALCO might play in this important community effort. Infrastructure expansion would improve our public safety network from dispatch radio communication, broadband access and enhanced 911 services to the potential for better cellular services. OPALCO’s fiber is already serving the County, the Sheriff’s Office, fire departments, libraries, medical centers and schools as well as some small businesses. With some additional investment, OPALCO could extend the fiber network to serve members in most of San Juan County.

Please  take a minute to complete the postcard survey (in mailboxes in mid-October or pick up a copy at your OPALCO office beginning 10/17) and return it to OPALCO by October 28th. Of the surveys received on time, ten names will be drawn to receive a $100 bill credit as our thanks for helping us with this important research.

Read the full article online.

UW Professor’s Curiosity Lands Him $500,000

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

From The Seattle Times: Shwetak Patel, a University of Washington professor, has won a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur “genius” grant

A couple of our OPALCO members sent us a link to this article in the Seattle Times. It’s exciting to know what is going on so close at the UW. If you’ve spent time (like me) trying to find what is using electricity in your home, you will like to read about this new technology.

“Instead of a once-every-two-month lump statement of energy consumption, Patel’s sensor gives a homeowner “a readout that tells you exactly what’s going on with each device, each light bulb, and so the feedback can make you smarter about your usage,” said Ed Lazowska, the Bill & Melinda Gates professor in the computer-science department. “The goal is to make it so dirt simple that any consumer can use it.”

Reminder: Power Outage for ALL of San Juan County tonight

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

September 15: Planned outage for ALL of San Juan County overnight beginning at 11:00 pm tonight and ending by 6:00 am tomorrow, Friday, September 16. This maintenance outage is being conducted by Bonneville Power Administration to test equipment at the Anacortes substation that feeds San Juan County as mandated by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). OPALCO crews will take advantage of this opportunity to conduct inspection and maintenance work on our system.

Members are responsible for their own equipment and OPALCO encourages all members to install surge protection to safeguard electronic, computer and other sensitive equipment and appliances. To prepare for an outage, members may want to turn sensitive electronics and equipment off at the surge protector, or unplug them completely – and keep a flashlight handy.  Click links for more information on surge protection, to learn how to prepare for an outage and what to do during an outage.

@OrcasPower Hits 100 Twitter Followers

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

If you are reading this blog, you are among OPALCO’s most “in-the-know” members. OPALCO launched the Sharing The Load blog in 2009 to keep members more informed about energy efficiency, primarily, and other important OPALCO news. In 2010, OPALCO began to use Twitter to keep members informed about outages, primarily – and other time sensitive news. As of today – September 15, 2011 at 9:30am – we have one hundred followers. If you aren’t among our first century group, please follow us @OrcasPower for the most up-to-date news on outages – and other timely news.

Managing Intermittent Wind Energy with EVs

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

From Integrating intermittent renewable energy sources like wind into the electric grid has been one of the big challenges facing the smart grid initiative. Now, scientists at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) say they have what could be a workaround: plug-in EVs.

“Electric vehicles, coupled with grid-friendly charging, offers a great opportunity, right now, to help electric companies integrate additional wind power into our electric system,” said Michael Kintner-Meyer, a PNNL staff scientist and co-author of the report Using Electric Vehicles to Meet Balancing Requirements Associated with Wind Power.

While growing in popularity, wind power is notoriously unpredictable – it’s not always there when you need it – and on windy days, grid operators struggle with ways to use excess energy or store it. And grid-scale storage is at this point pretty limited in the U.S. . . .

read the rest of the story:

What contributes to your home’s base load electricity use?

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

(This is the third installment in a series as Energy Services Assistant Manager Anne Bertino explores her home energy usage. Previous articles appeared on 7/3 and 8/8.)

Finally we are enjoying some summer weather and that means that there is still time to figure out what in my house is using energy besides the heating system. To remind you, I am looking for appliances and electronics that use a total of around 17 kWh per day.

Next to the heating and cooling systems, water heaters are the largest consumers of electricity in our homes.  I turned the water heater off at the breaker for two different 24 hour periods. Voila! I found at least 8 KWh of usage. That’s around half of the total 17 kWh that I am looking for.

Most water heaters have a 4500watt heating element. For example, if this element was on heating the water for 2 hours total in a 24 hour period the electricity usage would add up to 9 kWh.

Previously, I figured out that the TV and DVR together were using approximately .5  kWh per 24 hrs.  Now I know what is consuming about 8.5 to 9 kWh out of the 17kWh I am looking for.

Next, I unplugged a hot water re-circulating pump. This is a device that, several times an hour, will circulate hot water through the plumbing so that if we turn on a fixture hot water will almost instantly be there. The re-circulating pump was consuming about 1.5 kWh per 24 hours.

So, as of today, I know where about 10 to 11 kWh per day is coming from.  Items that are still on my list to investigate are the septic system pump and the water pump and purification system.

Stay Tuned –