Author Topic: A couple street lights out in my neighborhood  (Read 363 times)

horamitlind

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Re: A couple street lights out in my neighborhood
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2018, 04:27:47 AM »
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Pricing based on time of day is the only way power companies have of encouraging customers to shift power usage to nighttime.

Gale

I agree totally and I think that is the right way to go. With the newer dispatching systems, there are hourly pricings that the different parties use to determine which units are brought on and when. Giving the customer the right information and an incentive to use power during cheaper periods is the truly fair way to do things. Right now the issue is getting the right technology out there and then implement new rate structures. In our case, any changes would have to go through the state regulating agency.

My company, after some approved pilot programs, now has approval to implement a smart metering system over the whole customer base. That is the first step.

James Scaturro

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Re: A couple street lights out in my neighborhood
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2018, 12:09:14 AM »
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.........If the load factor in the Boston area is such that there is plenty of night time load, then the utility should not have a big problem. Thinking about this after my last post, that may be the case in more highly populated areas where the cities pretty much run around the clock. In my area, a sudden change out of all the street lights over the whole area would cause a problem, at least during certain times of the year.......

It varies by location and the nature of the public utility. Here in Wenatchee the local Public Utility Districts sell millions of dollars of "surplus" electricity to western Oregon and Washington, as well as California. They are replacing the streetlights with LED's so they can sell more electricity!!!

The major crises coming down the road is when ALL the power generated by the Columbia River Dams will be needed in the local community. Then our .027 electric rates, local fiber system for cable, phone, and internet, and subsidies to water and sewer systems will end.

So conservation AND led streetlights are IMPORTANT to local residents.

Support plug-in hybrids. That in inself, will change the dynamics of night time power pricing.

facwindpsychco

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Re: A couple street lights out in my neighborhood
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2018, 01:19:25 AM »
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.........If the load factor in the Boston area is such that there is plenty of night time load, then the utility should not have a big problem. Thinking about this after my last post, that may be the case in more highly populated areas where the cities pretty much run around the clock. In my area, a sudden change out of all the street lights over the whole area would cause a problem, at least during certain times of the year.......

It varies by location and the nature of the public utility. Here in Wenatchee the local Public Utility Districts sell millions of dollars of "surplus" electricity to western Oregon and Washington, as well as California. They are replacing the streetlights with LED's so they can sell more electricity!!!

The major crises coming down the road is when ALL the power generated by the Columbia River Dams will be needed in the local community. Then our .027 electric rates, local fiber system for cable, phone, and internet, and subsidies to water and sewer systems will end.

So conservation AND led streetlights are IMPORTANT to local residents.

Support plug-in hybrids. That in inself, will change the dynamics of night time power pricing.
Exactly! With more of the power consumption moved to the night time, the price for street and security lighting goes up. (or in your case with the change in lighting it provides power to be sold elsewhere which keeps your costs down.) THEN, there is more scrutiny on how much lighting is put in and whether it is being directed wisely or just being slopped everywhere.

snowcadere

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Re: A couple street lights out in my neighborhood
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2018, 12:00:16 AM »
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I have worked in power plants for pretty much my entire working carrier. The first time I walked into a plant to go to work was 45 years ago this last June. Since I work for a utility, I know a little about the value of street lighting, and one of the reasons it is difficult to get things turned off. Normally, the price of power for street lighting is very low due to the very low use of electricity during the night compared to the daytime.

A lot of times, there is a struggle to get enough load to keep units on line at night that are needed to produce power during the daytime. There are minimum loads at which a unit can run. Sometimes those are real physical limits and sometimes they are imposed due to an emmissions limit that would be exceeded if a particular unit is run at a lower load.

Startups and shutdowns are the toughest times in a physical sense due to the additional thermal strains on various pieces of equipment with physical material failures occuring more often when there are a lot of startups and shutdowns. As an example, some of our gas turbines are supposed to have a turbine overhaul every 450 starts. The overhaul kits, just the parts, for an overhaul of one of the gas turbines is ten million dollars, or was about ten years ago. It may be a lot higher now.

On conventional steam powered units, startup time can be up to 24 hours if a unit is cold and maybe 12 hours if it is hot, depending a lot on the particular design and size of the unit. This can impact the availability of power the next day or at least put more risk into not having enough.

Keeping enough power usage going to keep from taking units on and off has a great impact on the reliability of the system and in some cases can even help keep prices down. Though one or two individual lights being off does not mean much, the effect of having many off can have a great impact on the system as a whole.

The development of electic cars, with their batteries needing to be charged at night, and other electrical needs that could be met during these off times could have a great deal of impact on the reception we get from the utilities when we want to have less light shining in the sky at night. Anything that can be done to minimize the differences between maximum and minimum load levels around the clock can benefit everyone, one way or another.


Bill, thank you for this information; coming as it does from an unusual perspective that the vast majority of the public is totally unaware of and never considers, it may prove very useful in the future regarding light pollution issues. Stopping and/or starting large turbines is a serious, difficult business which isn't undertaken lightly; one gets the impression that the public's impression of electricityflowing from a socket is akin to their perception of where the wrapped cuts of meat in the supermarket comes from, since as long as it is readily available little or no thought is given to the specific methods and fine points of creation and supply.

Has the industry yet come to grips with the proliferation of LED streetlights, which due to their relatively low power consumption will not be nearly as effective a nightime load as current lights? I can see this as creating massive headaches for power managers if adopted widely and too rapidly.
As Bill has said there is a definite power reduction at night and there are minimum unit running loads. Power production is very much a peak load driven industry. The industry has to build for the peaks. If you do not you risk brownouts or blackouts. A well balanced power system has a lot of small to medium generators. Large generators make sense for the base load. The small to medium generators are able to load unload as required by the system operator. When they are at minimum or no load they become spinning reserve which the system requires to instantaneously meet a higher demand. Thermal and hydraulic generators are the most flexible for power output. Some nuclear plants are designed to be flexible as well. Private operators like to build big since that gives economy of scale, but puts the system at risk. Imagine losing 10% of your electrical system in an instant.  Although lighting is a large load at night it is not the only load, and will be partially replaced by LED.  Think of the lighting load difference between December and June. In Canada and the Northern US this amounts to almost 8 hours difference. The electrical system deals with this. The electrical system can and will adapt to the new load. They do price the electricity cheaper during the night because of less load. They also want you to wash, do dishes, and cook meals, and heat more at night, the real consumer load. Not that likely. More generators will need to reduce power output to match the load and maybe those large generating units will be seen as not so economical. LED's will help in the long run I believe. Better cutoff, lower energy consumption so we can use more with the same generation.

Nathan Mayienda

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Re: A couple street lights out in my neighborhood
« Reply #19 on: January 16, 2018, 11:12:53 PM »
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Quote

Fixing outdoor lighting is a low priority for utilities unless there is a complaint.

Absent a complaint, the utility has no way to know a light is out.
I am hoping it takes the neighbors a long time to figure out nobody else has turned in a complaint....or they really do not care if the light works and do not turn in a complaint anyway.

risodachest

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Re: A couple street lights out in my neighborhood
« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2018, 09:03:53 AM »
Quote
Quote

Quote

I have worked in power plants for pretty much my entire working carrier. The first time I walked into a plant to go to work was 45 years ago this last June. Since I work for a utility, I know a little about the value of street lighting, and one of the reasons it is difficult to get things turned off. Normally, the price of power for street lighting is very low due to the very low use of electricity during the night compared to the daytime.

A lot of times, there is a struggle to get enough load to keep units on line at night that are needed to produce power during the daytime. There are minimum loads at which a unit can run. Sometimes those are real physical limits and sometimes they are imposed due to an emmissions limit that would be exceeded if a particular unit is run at a lower load.

Startups and shutdowns are the toughest times in a physical sense due to the additional thermal strains on various pieces of equipment with physical material failures occuring more often when there are a lot of startups and shutdowns. As an example, some of our gas turbines are supposed to have a turbine overhaul every 450 starts. The overhaul kits, just the parts, for an overhaul of one of the gas turbines is ten million dollars, or was about ten years ago. It may be a lot higher now.

On conventional steam powered units, startup time can be up to 24 hours if a unit is cold and maybe 12 hours if it is hot, depending a lot on the particular design and size of the unit. This can impact the availability of power the next day or at least put more risk into not having enough.

Keeping enough power usage going to keep from taking units on and off has a great impact on the reliability of the system and in some cases can even help keep prices down. Though one or two individual lights being off does not mean much, the effect of having many off can have a great impact on the system as a whole.

The development of electic cars, with their batteries needing to be charged at night, and other electrical needs that could be met during these off times could have a great deal of impact on the reception we get from the utilities when we want to have less light shining in the sky at night. Anything that can be done to minimize the differences between maximum and minimum load levels around the clock can benefit everyone, one way or another.


Bill, thank you for this information; coming as it does from an unusual perspective that the vast majority of the public is totally unaware of and never considers, it may prove very useful in the future regarding light pollution issues. Stopping and/or starting large turbines is a serious, difficult business which isn't undertaken lightly; one gets the impression that the public's impression of electricityflowing from a socket is akin to their perception of where the wrapped cuts of meat in the supermarket comes from, since as long as it is readily available little or no thought is given to the specific methods and fine points of creation and supply.

Has the industry yet come to grips with the proliferation of LED streetlights, which due to their relatively low power consumption will not be nearly as effective a nightime load as current lights? I can see this as creating massive headaches for power managers if adopted widely and too rapidly.
As Bill has said there is a definite power reduction at night and there are minimum unit running loads. Power production is very much a peak load driven industry. The industry has to build for the peaks. If you do not you risk brownouts or blackouts. A well balanced power system has a lot of small to medium generators. Large generators make sense for the base load. The small to medium generators are able to load unload as required by the system operator. When they are at minimum or no load they become spinning reserve which the system requires to instantaneously meet a higher demand. Thermal and hydraulic generators are the most flexible for power output. Some nuclear plants are designed to be flexible as well. Private operators like to build big since that gives economy of scale, but puts the system at risk. Imagine losing 10% of your electrical system in an instant.  Although lighting is a large load at night it is not the only load, and will be partially replaced by LED.  Think of the lighting load difference between December and June. In Canada and the Northern US this amounts to almost 8 hours difference. The electrical system deals with this. The electrical system can and will adapt to the new load. They do price the electricity cheaper during the night because of less load. They also want you to wash, do dishes, and cook meals, and heat more at night, the real consumer load. Not that likely. More generators will need to reduce power output to match the load and maybe those large generating units will be seen as not so economical. LED's will help in the long run I believe. Better cutoff, lower energy consumption so we can use more with the same generation.
Erik is 100% correct. Anything we can do to improve efficiencies and not waste energy is the right thing to do.

In our case, we have already done things to make our units as load adaptive as we can.

As one example a gas fired older unit that has a name plate rating on the steam turbine of 120 MW has been modified to produce as much as 180 MW. At that top load, the station power is 10 MW so the output to customers is 170. At the low end of its range, it was traditionally brought down to 35 MW to the customers. or a little over 40 MW on the turbine generator. We made changes where we take it down to 19 MW gross or 14 MW to the customers. At that point, there is so high a percentage of water droplets in the exhaust steam of the steam turbine that we risk serious damage to the turbine blades. Things have worked out well there, but we know that we cannot take the load any lower. Also, at lower loads like that, the unit is so far away from its design point that the efficiency situation is bad enough that we really cannot run any lower.

Coal units are cheaper to operate, due to cheaper fuel, but they cannot be turned down as much due to damage that would take place in coal pulverizers. There is a limit on how far down the unit can go in terms of the number of pulverizers in service for safety reasons. Normally, a coal unit can go down to around one third of its rated load.

For gas turbines, newer ones are getting better, but they normally start making more NOx as they go down on load since they have minimum amounts of air that get pulled through them. They have a limit somewhere around one third of full load, but that varies depending on the particular design and the particular unit as it got built.

There is been a big push to put selective catalytic reducers on the rear end of units to take out NOx. These only work in specific temperature ranges of the flue gas. There is a limit on how low a unit can go and still have its catalytic converter work. Some units with converters become limited on how high they can go on load AND how low they can go compared to what they could do before the SCR was added on the back end.

There are times in the hot summer where we need all the units on for peak load, but actually have to take some units off for part of the night because there is too much capacity at the lowest point. Fortunately, we do have some units that can come on and go off easier than others. These are normally older, lower pressure, less efficient units that were built like army tanks, or simple cycle gas turbines (no heat recovery steam generators and steam turbines attached) which are not any where nearly as efficient as combined cycle units (the ones with HRSGs and steam turbines).

There is a design that is new for us, but has been around a while in luxury sea liners that is an internal combution engine with a generator. There is one company making them in the whole world, but they seem to work well. They can produce about 18 MW each, which is pretty small by our standards. The design has a heat rate (Btu/kwh) at full load that is better than any conventional steam generation unit. They seem to be impervious to a large number of starts and stops, though I will reserve my personal judgement until we some of them in service for a while. The idea is to put a whole long line of these in as a plant, then put on or take off individual engines. The engines that are in service will only be run at the efficient point. The draw back is the investment expense, which I understand to be pretty high for the amount of megawatts produced. Hopefully, this will be part of the light at the end of the tunnel but probably not all of it.

Back to street lighting and light pollution: New street lights that decrease power consumption are the right thing to do and nobody that I know questions that. Convincing folks that directing light where it is supposed to go instead of splattering it everywhere will allow the use of less lights or lower wattage ones (also the right thing to do) is where the challenge lies.

Jason Muse

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Re: A couple street lights out in my neighborhood
« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2018, 04:08:30 AM »
The supervisor of a NY township just south of me noticed, for reasons lost in early 20th Century history, that for a portion of the major population center, the town’s two separate streetlight systems overlap – meaning about a dozen city blocks have double the number of streetlights. He proposed debulbing half of the lights in that strip, to save money.

The electric company responded “We need x dollars per light – on or off, working or not – if you don’t pay us the same amount you are paying now, you will get no power at all for any of your streetlights.” We all learned that there is no 'power meter' on these lights, and the power bill is based on an estimate of consumption.

Also, the people living on those blocks when crazy, fearing a “crime wave” from reduced lighting, despite being assured that they would have the same level of lighting as the other town residents.

Bottom line: All dead lights have been repaired, and the “double light area” remains as it has always been (but a proposed switch to LED next year may change this).

Ken Kamkoff

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Re: A couple street lights out in my neighborhood
« Reply #22 on: January 22, 2018, 07:53:48 PM »
A few comments:An article on “natural gas” in yesterday’s NY Times noted that gas generation stations are not only cheaper to construct, they are also easier to turn on and off. One of the reasons for the rapid turn from coal to gas.Although LED lighting will have some impact (much bigger on local gov costs I assume), there are other more profound issues rocking the boat in the electric energy industry. Even in ‘wind crazy’ Germany (to a lesser extent “solar” south Cal) they are slowing down on their goal of 50% wind in order to work thru the politics of how the traditional industry will get enough money to pay for back-up capacity, plus all of the other “system” work they do. In the USA some electric companies are even lobbying state governments to require a monthly payment from both businesses and homeowners who are completely off-grid. If these laws go thru, you pay, even if you get no power from the grid.Another thought….. as I post this: One of the new major consumers of electric power today is: the internet! Google, for example, likes to locate its massive data centers (servers, disk packs, etc, aka “the cloud”) in northern/southern climates to help reduce the cost of cooling. They demand local gov helps them pay for power, or “no data center and no high-paid jobs”. (BTW, don’t go looking for these data centers – the security is tighter than the Pentagon, and Google fuzzes up the view of their data complexes on Google Earth. They won’t even let state governors or US senators inside).

Jon Venning

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Re: A couple street lights out in my neighborhood
« Reply #23 on: January 22, 2018, 08:14:28 PM »
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A few comments:An article on “natural gas” in yesterday’s NY Times noted that gas generation stations are not only cheaper to construct, they are also easier to turn on and off. One of the reasons for the rapid turn from coal to gas.
Those are called 'peakers" in the trade and they are, indeed, used to rapidly add power in peak periods. Being small, they are the most expensive power source to operate per MWH so they are used only when necessary. They aren't intended to (and don't) replace real (high capacity) power plants.


revekosque

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Re: A couple street lights out in my neighborhood
« Reply #24 on: January 23, 2018, 05:42:26 AM »
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The supervisor of a NY township just south of me noticed, for reasons lost in early 20th Century history, that for a portion of the major population center, the town’s two separate streetlight systems overlap – meaning about a dozen city blocks have double the number of streetlights. He proposed debulbing half of the lights in that strip, to save money.

The electric company responded “We need x dollars per light – on or off, working or not – if you don’t pay us the same amount you are paying now, you will get no power at all for any of your streetlights.” We all learned that there is no 'power meter' on these lights, and the power bill is based on an estimate of consumption.

Also, the people living on those blocks when crazy, fearing a “crime wave” from reduced lighting, despite being assured that they would have the same level of lighting as the other town residents.

Bottom line: All dead lights have been repaired, and the “double light area” remains as it has always been (but a proposed switch to LED next year may change this).

I think I would have taken them to court over that one.

If the politics were different with peoples fears, the thing to do is do without the lighting for a while. Just tell them, "OK, we are going to turn off those lights and not pay you for them. We do not want them any more." Personally, I think that power company was bluffing and the township fell for it. After a few months of not getting paid, the power company would see the revenue loss and would come back to negotiate.

Another thing the township can do is take the issue to whatever state agency regulates the utility. The township has a legitimate complaint. If the area is unregulated, then just go find another vendor. That particular power company is playing "hard ball" and the township needs to do likewise. I personally do not respect they way those folks are being treated and that is not the way I have been trained or the way my company does things.

Eric Guffey

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Re: A couple street lights out in my neighborhood
« Reply #25 on: January 31, 2018, 12:28:24 AM »
Any person or company that has a monopoly will be tempted to abuse it.And too often there is a cozy relationship between the government regulators and the utility or other industry they deal with ,often with friendly regulators being rewarded with high paying industry jobs or vice versa.When there is a "natural" monopoly such as water,sewerage,and electricity there is competition to innovate and keep costs low. And the monoplies often see to that regulations prohibit their customers from even attempting alternates.Case example is the woman in Florida who had solar panels,etc but was ordered earlier this year to connect to public utilities because the building codes specify a house is not habitable if not connected to the public utilities.

Too much of our lives is driven by fear ,and sometimes those fears are used to control us.

On a modest positive note,it appears a few large businesses I pass at night have converted from cobra head to full cutoff lighting for their outside lots.Much less glare in the eyes while driving in that block.

guisamcipen

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Re: A couple street lights out in my neighborhood
« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2018, 05:34:16 AM »
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Too much of our lives is driven by fear, and sometimes those fears are used to control us.

Agreed. Fear is a primary tool with which to exact both tribute and compliance; often, the more nebulous and tenuous that fear, the more easily it can be used thusly.As applied to LP, it's rather obvious that fear of crime is used as the primary stalking horse to increase demand for more lighting (supposed "safety" issues coming in a close second), even though (to a point) less lighting tends to reduce criminal activity. No matter, as very few people outside of those actively pursuing astronomy actually use their critical faculties (i.e., think) when considering the issue of light pollution; as fear tends to elicit reaction instead of considered response, and in any case this wonderful post-modern era runs first and foremost on emotions as opposed to rationality, it is a most effective control mechanism. One often-overlooked advantage possessed by fear-mongers of all stripes is that there is always a cohort of authoritarian/statist personality types who will back them up; one of the most noticeable being the "If it saves even one life, it's worth it" crowd. Most of these fellow travelers never really matured and demonstrably never stopped running to Mommy or Daddy when real life showed up; they simply replaced their parents with whatever power structure made the best promises to allay their fears, however illogical or unfounded (which fears said power structure was usually subtly responsible for creating in the first instance).

Jacob Hernandez

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Re: A couple street lights out in my neighborhood
« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2018, 08:52:29 AM »
I thought I would happily post a non-progress report on the two street lights on either end of my block being repaired. Today is about two months since I noticed that they were out. The light directly across the street from my house is still, unfortunately, working quite well. It seems to be a rather hearty thing, with all of my ill thoughts having no apparent effect what-so-ever.

handthedemo

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Re: A couple street lights out in my neighborhood
« Reply #28 on: January 31, 2018, 09:37:19 AM »
They don't have any way of knowing such lights are out unless a neighbor complains (they don't patrol for it). You'll be fine until someone else notices.

Duana Beckwith

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Re: A couple street lights out in my neighborhood
« Reply #29 on: January 31, 2018, 09:39:34 AM »
You are quite correct in that my electric company and city rely on call-ins. I work for the electric company. We will eventually have smart meters installed on all the houses, which I believe can report outages. Fortunately, street lights will not have those.I am please that my neighbors are not bothered by the street lights being out enough to call in. Most have their garage lights on until late in the evening, so the street light being out is probably not a problem for them. Their houses and fences block the garage lights from my back yard, so I am a happy camper....at least for now.