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Is there an echo in here? Woes of another highly privatized grid.

Discussion in 'Politics (deprecated)' started by OTIS, Aug 28, 2003.

  1. OTIS

    OTIS TRIBE Member

    London, parts of England lose power
    LONDON (AP) — Power went out in parts of the capital and southeast England Thursday, bringing much of the London Underground and many regional trains to a halt during evening rush hour.
    It was not immediately clear how widespread the outages were. London Electricity said power appeared to have gone out in parts of south London and Kent, a county southeast of the city.

    A spokesman for the Underground said 60% of the subway system had been halted by the outage, including the majority of services in central London.

    Workers were evacuating affected trains and stations. The outage came at the height of the evening rush hour, and news reports said many passengers were stuck underground.

    London Underground said the problems were caused by a failure on the national power grid.

    EDF Energy, which handles some power transmission for London, said it had lost electricity for large parts of south London.

    "It's difficult to predict how long this is going to take," a spokesman said on condition of anonymity. "National Grid has got to get the circuit back."

    A spokesman for the British Transport Police said the outage had affected all of south London's major overland train stations — Victoria, London Bridge, Waterloo — and halted all the area's main train lines.

    "Some stations are in darkness and others have emergency lighting," he said
     
  2. AdRiaN

    AdRiaN TRIBE Member

    Don't say the power outage was a result of privatization unless you can prove it.

    Power outages do occur under publicly-owned electricity grids too, ya know. Ask Hydro Quebec.
     
  3. Boss Hog

    Boss Hog TRIBE Member

    That's right. It's just a great coincidence.
     
  4. 416

    416 TRIBE Member

    LOL
     
  5. OTIS

    OTIS TRIBE Member

    Why, will Ken Lay come to my office and arrest me personally?
     
  6. AdRiaN

    AdRiaN TRIBE Member

    How would you respond if I posted a story about a major power outage in Paris, France that occurred on August 12th and called it, "woes of a publicly owned monopoly"? Is that a valid argument?
     
  7. OTIS

    OTIS TRIBE Member

    Get mad.

    ARF!
     
  8. OTIS

    OTIS TRIBE Member

    London mayor blames lack of investment in electricity network for power cut

    Canadian Press


    Friday, August 29, 2003
    ADVERTISEMENT


    [Ad]
    LONDON (AP) - London's mayor Friday blamed lack of investment in Britain's electricity network for a power cut that stranded hundreds of thousands of commuters in the British capital during rush hour.

    Mayor Ken Livingstone said the outage Thursday night, which trapped thousands of people in subway trains for up to 90 minutes, could have had "horrifying consequences" if it had occurred during a recent heat wave, instead of on a chilly, wet evening.

    "We might well have found many people hospitalized because of the temperatures," he told British Broadcasting Corp. radio, adding that the power cut had caused "merely a horrendous inconvenience." He said tube trains were running normally Friday morning.

    EDF Energy, which handles power transmission for the affected areas of London, said electricity went out around 6:20 p.m., local time, and came back on at 7 p.m.. The outages appeared to be confined to south London and Kent, a county southeast of the city.

    Livingstone's office said the blackout affected about 250,000 subway passengers and thousands of other people on trains, roads and in buildings. It said it wasn't aware of anyone being hospitalized as a result of the outage.

    "You have to ask why it is a country which is the fourth richest in the world can't invest enough in its power supply to maintain power," Livingstone said.

    Mark Fairbairn of National Grid, which runs the national power network, said the outage resulted from two technical faults, not lack of investment.

    "The two faults occurring simultaneously, in quick succession, is extremely rare," Fairbairn, the company's chief operating officer, told the BBC. "Levels of investment made by the national grid are four or five times higher than pre privatization (in the 1990s). This has got nothing to do with under investment."

    Fairbairn said workers were investigating the two faults that caused the outage. Energy Minister Stephen Timms said he would be asking for an urgent report from National Grid.

    The grid failure caused hundreds of traffic lights to fail in London, and brought tube and overland trains in the capital to a halt. Even after power was restored, train services suffered disruption late into the night because of the backlog of passengers.

    © Copyright 2003 The Canadian Press
     
  9. silver1

    silver1 TRIBE Member

    London mayor blames lack of investment in electricity network for power cut

    Canadian Press


    Friday, August 29, 2003
    ADVERTISEMENT


    [Ad]
    LONDON (AP) - London's mayor Friday blamed lack of investment in Britain's electricity network for a power cut that stranded hundreds of thousands of commuters in the British capital during rush hour.

    Mayor Ken Livingstone said the outage Thursday night, which trapped thousands of people in subway trains for up to 90 minutes, could have had "horrifying consequences" if it had occurred during a recent heat wave, instead of on a chilly, wet evening.

    "We might well have found many people hospitalized because of the temperatures," he told British Broadcasting Corp. radio, adding that the power cut had caused "merely a horrendous inconvenience." He said tube trains were running normally Friday morning.

    EDF Energy, which handles power transmission for the affected areas of London, said electricity went out around 6:20 p.m., local time, and came back on at 7 p.m.. The outages appeared to be confined to south London and Kent, a county southeast of the city.

    Livingstone's office said the blackout affected about 250,000 subway passengers and thousands of other people on trains, roads and in buildings. It said it wasn't aware of anyone being hospitalized as a result of the outage.

    "You have to ask why it is a country which is the fourth richest in the world can't invest enough in its power supply to maintain power," Livingstone said.

    Mark Fairbairn of National Grid, which runs the national power network, said the outage resulted from two technical faults, not lack of investment.

    "The two faults occurring simultaneously, in quick succession, is extremely rare," Fairbairn, the company's chief operating officer, told the BBC. "Levels of investment made by the national grid are four or five times higher than pre privatization (in the 1990s). This has got nothing to do with under investment."

    Fairbairn said workers were investigating the two faults that caused the outage. Energy Minister Stephen Timms said he would be asking for an urgent report from National Grid.

    The grid failure caused hundreds of traffic lights to fail in London, and brought tube and overland trains in the capital to a halt. Even after power was restored, train services suffered disruption late into the night because of the backlog of passengers.

    © Copyright 2003 The Canadian Press
     
  10. Littlest Hobo

    Littlest Hobo TRIBE Member

    I gotta say Otis, you're getting he-bitched man-slapped on this issue. I'd give it up already.
     
  11. junglisthead

    junglisthead TRIBE Member

  12. OTIS

    OTIS TRIBE Member



    That to me says nothing, all it sounds like is corporate doublespeak, 4 or 5 times the money going into the grid may bring wows to you, but it was last public 20 years ago.. so do the math take into consideration the increase in demand over that time. Still impressive? Besieds it's always the corporate position to redirect blame off the company. Despite the 'rarity' of this occasion, and the private interests holding all the cards.
     
  13. OTIS

    OTIS TRIBE Member

    Wow such insight.
     
  14. OTIS

    OTIS TRIBE Member

    Double failure caused London power blackout

    15:52 29 August 03

    NewScientist.com news service

    An investigation is underway to find the cause of electricity blackout in London that left the city in chaos during Thursday evening's rush hour.

    Power was restored within 40 minutes, but the failure left more than 250,000 London Underground users stranded as 60 per cent of the network ground to a halt. Many trains were stranded in tunnels between stations for as long as 90 minutes.

    The lack of power to signals also prevented many mainline trains from running. And on the streets there was further turmoil as 270 sets of traffic lights blanked out, meaning buses were caught in long traffic jams. National Grid Transco (NTC), which runs the UK's national electricity grid, apologised for the disruption.

    The outage began at 1810 BST, when an alarm indicated a fault with a transformer at a substation in Hurst, Kent. Ten minutes later, the transformer was switched off, a standard procedure that should be imperceptible to electricity users.

    However, within seven seconds, a second fault occurred stopping electricity from flowing down a 275,000 volt underground cable between two substations in New Cross and Wimbledon.

    "At this point, we do not know the reason why the equipment failed," said NTC in a statement. Back-up systems are in place in case this sort of thing happens. "In this case, the back-up also failed."

    The crucial question now is whether the two failures were related, says Daniel Kirschen, an expert in power systems security at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, in the UK.


    "If they were truly independent events then that's within guidelines and just a case of plain old bad luck," he says. "But if one caused the other, then there's a problem with the way the system is designed."

    These kinds of "hidden" faults are almost impossible to predict when designing a system, says Kirschen, but represent a serious problem. NTC described the second fault as "totally exceptional" and said that its management systems behaved exactly as they should have.

    Until 2002, London Underground had its own independent power station. But it was shut down as part of a controversial deal to hand over the tube's power supply to a private consortium, which took its power from the national grid.


    According to NTC, no parallels can be drawn between this power failure and the massive blackout that hit North America on 14 August, leaving as many as 60 million people in the dark. "There is no similarity in cause, scale or duration," says the company.
     
  15. OTIS

    OTIS TRIBE Member

    Mayor: Lack of funding 'criminal'
    Friday, August 29, 2003 Posted: 1609 GMT (12:09 AM HKT)


    Livingstone: Underground "is almost being held together by glue and string."

    LONDON, England (CNN) -- The mayor of London says he is enraged by a power failure that brought 60 percent of the London Underground rail system to a standstill.

    The power is back on, but there is no explanation as to what caused the outage. Mayor Ken Livingstone spoke to CNN Anchor Charles Hodson about the outage. This is a transcript of their conversation:

    HODSON: Mr. Livingstone, your New York equivalent Mr. Bloomberg was very quick to say what had gone wrong there. Were you in the loop soon as to what had gone wrong or are you in the loop now?

    LIVINGSTONE: I have just spoken to the chairman of the National Grid. They still don't know exactly what it was that went wrong. One bit of equipment started to look as though it was going on the blink, so they took it out of service. After that they are not certain.

    They've said that they will cooperate fully with my staff, so that we can find out hopefully within the next couple of days exactly what happened and see if we can put in place the mechanisms that will mean that it will not happen again. We are being told that it was a "one off" and that it would never happen again, but I want absolute assurance quite frankly.

    HODSON: It is far from satisfactory, not least because of the enormous inconvenience and suffering that is caused. A quarter of a million, probably more, were trapped in the Underground.

    LIVINGSTONE: And think how much worse it would have been if it had been a month ago at the height of the heat wave. What was quite encouraging was that the response of the Underground staff was very good. We started to get people who had been trapped in the tunnels out very rapidly, not like in the old days where they would be left there for an hour and a half or so on, and we got most of the system up and running and most people got home before midnight.

    What I was struck by, given that many people's, including myself, initial response was that this could be a terrorist attack, people stayed very calm, there was no panicking, the police reports from across London suggest that nobody started to get upset or agitated, they just got on with their difficult journey home or carried on working a bit later in the office.

    HODSON: There is no mistaking the familiar London stoicism -- business as usual and all of that -- but is this not another proof of just how weak the infrastructure is in London, whether you are looking at the Underground rail system or the electricity power system?

    LIVINGSTONE: This is exactly my point. It used to be that the Tube had its own power generator at Lotts Road. When that got old and started to break, down the government of the day -- and I can't even tell you which one it was now because it was some time ago -- decided that instead of building a new modern generator, we would depend on the National Grid, and that was fine as long as you can guarantee that the National Grid won't go down.

    And it may very well be that the lesson that comes out of this is that the government has got to come up with the money that it did not in the past, to actually give us that generator so that we at least have a failsafe.

    HODSON: What is your message to all of those looking in on this from all over the world who might be forgiven for thinking that London, a bit like New York, really does not have the infrastructure to be a major financial and business center.

    LIVINGSTONE: Well, that is one of the real problems, and that is clearly a bad blow for our international reputation. But this is not unique to New York and London -- we've had similar problems in Finland and in Italy.

    I think we may very well find that the problem here is that great wave of privatization that went round the world -- all the utilities were flogged off, big share options for the boys at the top, but not the investment in modern infrastructure that you need.
    We are just getting the real detailed report from my people that are now running the Underground, we have had it for five weeks.

    HODSON: What can you do to get that investment rolling again?

    LIVINGSTONE: The first thing is finding out the state we are in. I am going to take TV and newspaper people in to see the state of the equipment in a few weeks time. We have been finding equipment that in other countries you could only find in their transport museums. We have been finding big notices saying, "Don't open this door because of asbestos" -- these are in the core parts of the Underground from which we run the system. The lack of investment, I think, is bordering on the criminal, and it is almost being held together by glue and string.
     
  16. silver1

    silver1 TRIBE Member

    And the political positions are never about pointing the fingers elsewhere and redirecting the blame away from the government? Politicians comments are never about telling the people what they want to hear to keep the public support?

    And so the politician say it was becuase of lack of funding but then says,

    i.e. well we don't know why it happened and we need to look into it.

    Plus he also says, :

     
  17. AdRiaN

    AdRiaN TRIBE Member

    Okay, so the privately-owned electric utility has not properly invested in infrastructure. Fine.

    But the publicly-owned subway system is also falling apart because of inadequate investment.

    How do these facts somehow suggest the superiority of public ownership of infrastructure assets?
     
  18. OTIS

    OTIS TRIBE Member

    The point of that was if it were kept publically, the underground would still be on independant generation, which means a population resembling a mini city would not have been thrown into chaos. Their subway system is much more extensive than our pathetic one in comparison.

    You can easily draw a paralell between that, and where the concerns of private industry lie.
     
  19. OTIS

    OTIS TRIBE Member

    An aspect of the partial privitization of the London Underground was the creation of three PRIVATE companies who were to invest in and maintain the infastructure of the tube. The lack of that the Mayor was mentioning was reffering to that investement.
     
  20. silver1

    silver1 TRIBE Member

    Actually, it says that the government decided to not fix the independent power generator and instead go with the National Grid.

    It was the decision of the publically owned underground to not continue to use independent power generation.

    i.e. instead of spending the money ourselves on the needed upgrades to ensure the underground always has power, we'll rely on something we don't have any control over.
     
  21. AdRiaN

    AdRiaN TRIBE Member

    Keep in mind that privately-owned transmission utilities are still regulated by the government. The rules do not change.

    If more investment is needed in a transmission system, the regulator needs to change its rules and either provide proper incentives for investment (ie,. through rate-setting mechanisms) or impose statutory requirements on the companies.

    Private or public ownership of the companies is irrelevant in this respect.
     
  22. KickIT

    KickIT TRIBE Member

    I think the lesson to be learned from these experiences, is that the status quo just isn't going to cut it.

    *c*
     
  23. OTIS

    OTIS TRIBE Member

    No, what are you talking about, open up all crucial industries with a fixed cosumer base to the flux of the market.. c'mon the market reflects truly what the people want! It's never manipulated, the discipline of the market is strict.. deregulate, get rid of all rules and lets rely on corporate morality!!! YAY!


    Silver1, Adrian, it's been over 10 years since Thaterite/Enron privatizatin swept the globe, please provide me examples, since there should be plenty by now where privatization & deregulation of electricity & things like it like water (UK) work (cheaper reliable power & healthy investment. I'm interested to study some cases where it works, because I truly want to know what convinces you so much that it does.

    All I've read about, and heard about is that it doesn't work. North American systems were first regulated & publically owned to sort out what was called "power piracy", a highly corrupt private system that created nothing less than a mess of the system. FDR in the thirties exclaimed the end of the power pirates when he put a cap on the industry, AND BANNED ANY SOFT OR HARD MONEY donations from power companies to politicians.

    Please spare me examples of public mismanagment as an argument for privatization.. that's like calling cyanide a fix for a bee sting. Please provide me with successful examples. I really want to know.
     
  24. AdRiaN

    AdRiaN TRIBE Member

    Privatization

    In real terms, electricity prices in the UK under a privatized system have been lower than under a public system. There is no evidence that under-investment caused the recent blackout. Equipment failures are bound to occur every once in a while in a very large and complex grid, no matter how much money you spend on infrastructure. I would say that Britain's example of electricity deregulation and privatization has been a success.

    You seem to be focusing on this one freak event as evidence to the contrary, and ignoring an entire decade of falling prices and stable reliability.
     
  25. ~atp~

    ~atp~ TRIBE Member

    Re: Privatization

    I can agree that it would be somewhat premature to find fault in "privatization" for the recent blackout. One can disagree in principle to "privatization", but it is fallacious to leverage the blackout in favour of an argument against deregulation.

    If someone would like to find fault in the privatized energy market, the arguments will need to be very, very convincing since we lack any sort of statistical comparison (that I'm aware of).
     

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