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Puerto Rico Still Without Power

It’s hard to believe that we are just halfway through the normal hurricane season with the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria. The connection to climate change to these storms are becoming more evident. Because of global warming and the rise in temperature in the air and water, climate scientists have linked these developments to bigger storms with stronger winds, massive amounts of rain and flooding resulting in devastating conditions. Scientists are saying storms like Harvey, Irma and Maria are the new norm.

Power in Puerto Rico before and after Maria

The situation is still very dire in Puerto Rico where almost all the local power lines have been downed by the 155 mph winds of Hurricane Maria. The heavy winds also knocked out radar, weather stations, cell towers. It’s been a week since Maria tore through Puerto Rico downing lines and even though the hurricane somehow averted the island’s power plants, no electricity is flowing in any of the 2,470 miles of transmission lines that run from its power plants, or the almost 31,500 miles of shorter lines that also transmit electricity from the power grid to some 3.4 million Americans. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) has said that most local power lines have been destroyed. PREPA has been running an antiquated grid but hasn’t been able to afford to bring it up to date. It’s estimated that $30 billion the damage has been caused by Maria. For very few Puerto Ricans, the only source of electricity is coming from generators.

 

 

 

As global temperatures

 
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Georgia Power Outages Almost Fixed

UPDATE: September 27: The number of customers still without power in Georgia are 363, representing a total of 64 Active Outages. Power has been restored to nearly the almost 1.2 million Georgia customers who lost electricity after Irma.

From Georgia Power’s outage map, as of today, they are working on 75 active outages which affect 991 customers. According to the Atlantic Journal Constitution, four days after Tropical Storm Irma hit metro Atlanta, there are more Georgia Power customers without power in DeKalb County than anywhere else in the state. In neighboring Florida the huge loss of power from Irma has sparked the debate of whether to bury all the above ground lines of the electric grid to protect electricity in severe weather events. The Climate Institute in Washington D.C. has studied HVDC (underground high voltage direct current) and you can read their proposal for an underground grid connecting renewable energy supplies to the continental U.S.

 
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Great Idea: Manual boarding vs Automatic boarding by CityTech blogger Viki Bailey

We need to learn how to build disaster-resistant communities to lessen the human fatalities and economic losses resulting from natural disasters. The first thing people who expect to be in harm’s way is to board up their homes. They do this to protect their property from being destroyed by hurricanes and tornadoes, floods.  An idea that occurred to me was what I call automatic boarding. First let me define boarding up during a storm. Boarding up before and during a storm is the process of installing boards, usually plywood sheets, on windows and doors of a residence or building to protect it from storm damage. Boarding up is also done to prevent unauthorized access by squatters, looters or vandals. A good place to learn about boarding up your home is here. My idea is taking boarding one step further: why not install an automatic gate surrounding the property that will automatically rise when there is threat of a storm? The gate would roll out from under the ground and automatically spread itself around the property from bottom to top, protecting the property from any damage during a storm. The gate would act the same way bags of sand or dirt stacked against each other forming a boarder or wall reaching knee high. Wouldn’t it be great if automatic gating be mandatory especially during storms? And there would be funding earmarked for it? It would pay off in the long run because there would be less damage to property, people would be protected and rebuilding would be minimum to none.

 
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Update: Florida Residents Still Without Power

Hurricane Irma made landfall on September 10 in Florida the 185 mph winds knocked out power in most of the state.  The list of residents without power in Florida counties to date is as follows:

Brevard: 66

Manatee: 350

Palm Beach: 139

Putnam:  29

Sarasota: 99

Seminole:  220

St. John:  27

St. Lucie:  13

According to Florida Power & Light power outage map, 962 residents are still without power. According to ABC news Florida Power & Light’s more than 50 percent of the company’s customers had power within 48 hours of Irma.

 
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Climate Change & Power Outages: Update, Puerto Rico

September 23, 2017

It’s estimated that Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million people are still without power after being hit three days ago with Hurricane Maria, a category 5 hurricane. The recent surge of hurricanes and tropical storms are directly related to climate change because of the warmer ocean and air temperatures. Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and San Juan’s Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz expects it to take months to fix the outage. Hurricane Maria has also left Dominica without any power. Some of St Croix’s power is back on. The past few weeks, three massive hurricanes have been fatal and have caused widespread destruction. But the loss of electricity is the most threatening. Hurricane Irma’s power outage total in the U.S. came close to topping the total from Sandy in 2012, which was 8.7 million customers or about 20 million people.

About a year ago an article in the Washington Post reported on the advantages of building underground energy transmission systems to avoid this exact dire situation.  An underground high voltage direct current (HVDC) network would safeguard electricity from destructive storms, an ever increasing weather event reflecting the effects of climate change. Today, the prospects for those in Puerto Rico with electricity means no food, no running water, no gasoline, could be fatal to many.

 
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