3-phase Smoke: Power diagram needed

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Millennium Salons : One Thread

Date: Thu, 19 Nov 1998

Hello Jeff Osanka;

Excuse the delay, please. I'm glad that you're on the Board of Commissioners for EWEB, and that you're looking seriously at the y2k problem. Since EWEB is publicly owned, I own EWEB, too - in an odd sort of way - and I can foresee that if EWEB does not handle this problem adroitly, it could face suits in the years 1999 and 2000 from a lot of people in the community for losses that our insurance will not cover.

As you and I have noted, this is a problem that will exist for any utility in the world who provides power to consumers with electric motors. Perhaps you can find other utilities who have taken these steps and, if so, perhaps you can access their information. The Northwest Public Power Association seems like it might be a resource you could use. In any case, I hope there is little delay, as I can imagine that the parts needed may become difficult to buy, if we all need them at once and we wait till there are only a few months left to stimulate the scale of manufacture that might be called for.

Here's a description of the problem I spoke to you about - it is a problem that anyone with electric motors (especially 3-phase) faces. As we discussed, this does seem to be the province of EWEB. What I would like to see as a final product is a diagram (preferrably on the WEB, so that others can use it) that an average commercial electrician can use that will:

1) list parts needed, with specs
2) have the wiring diagram as it comes out of the main panel and shunts affected equipment off to the side where it can be monitored
3) re-routes equipment back into the main panel
4) appropriately handles the vagaries of 3-phase power coming back on line
5) has instructions for proper handling of 3-phase and single phase electric equipment in the case of both black outs and brown outs.

It would be great if EWEB could make the basic parts available in a kit form, purchased by EWEB at cost, and sold for costs to all EWEB customers directly. This eliminates the need for the Electrician to put a mark-up on the basic parts set, and keeps the cost as low as possible for the business or home owner.

My job as an electric motor user would then be to buy the parts, hire the electrician, and arrange for my own best practices should a brown out occur.

The problem:

I have a small grocery in downtown Eugene. I run 7 compressors and numerous electric motors in the refrigeration of my store. My equipment is used, and I cannot afford new equipment.

Compressor motors must be turned off within minutes of getting low-power or they will burn up, and they cost thousands of dollars apiece. The food in the freezers and refrigerators must be protected. I need an electrical device (simple switch?) system that registers when below nominal (low-voltage, "brown" power) is going to my 7 large compressors. This switch will either trigger a bell in the store, putting my staff into a "shut down" mode that will soon involve perishable goods protection, or be tied to our alarm system, and trigger a phone call after hours. I have to do some re-wiring at the panel (or be prepared to do it) in order to handle longer-term outages well.

I maintain my equipment well, but brownouts from EWEB will age it more quickly, and I won't be able to recover costs or losses, since my insurance is not going to handle this. I can assume that all power problems at some point will be disallowed without hiring an attorney to prove that the losses of power were not Year 2000 related.

I do not anticipate that as an option, and imagine that - should I need to recover money somewhere, since I have many, many thousands of dollars in refrigeration equipment - I would have no recourse but to seek damages through EWEB. This would be self-destructive, since I'd only end up with an increase in my rates, but it would spread $30,000+ in costs that would bankrupt me out over the EWEB owners, instead, and might be a required step of recourse to seek if I were forced to consider bankruptcy. As an owner-user of EWEB, I see this potential exists throughout our community, and so I urge your Board to address this aggressively and without delay, with the goal of serving your customers proactively and well.


Thank you for your time and consideration. I'd appreciate your feedback, and further education on anything I've either misunderstood or not taken fully into account.


Cynthia Beal

-- cynthia (cabeal@efn.org), November 20, 1998

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