California!! It's Another Country!!

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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby Shapley » Sat Jan 01, 2011 9:25 pm

"Burning coal to pump water for peak hour generation seems somehow akin to lighting cigars with treasury bills. Probably over 2/3 of the BTU's are lost, yet that's probably cheaper than the cost of capital to provide the peak capacity by thermal generation. "

I think the logic is that much of the coal would be burned, anyway. They don't shut the coal plants down at night, they just keep burning the coal even as demand on the electricity drops, since it is too much trouble the fire the things up freshly every morning. Thus, a certain amount of coal is going to be burned just to keep the hardware warm, even if no electricity is being produced. The question would be whether the additional coal needed to power the pumps, is justified by the additional peak-demand power produced by the water flowing back down. I would gather that the answer is 'yes', given that such systems are seen in places such as Georgia, Missouri, and California. I doubt the cost of undertaking such construction would have been budgeted in so many locales and by so many differing companies without a thorough review of the costs vs. benefits.

Then again, stranger things have happened....
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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby analog » Sun Jan 02, 2011 12:19 am

I think the logic is that much of the coal would be burned, anyway. They don't shut the coal plants down at night, they just keep burning the coal even as demand on the electricity drops, since it is too much trouble the fire the things up freshly every morning.


you're exactly right. Being huge machines , power plants have thermal issues when they are cycled. Did you know those big boilers are hung from the top? They expand a foot or two as they heat up so are hung like a pendulum from a steel framework, lest they tilt. Thermal Fatigue is a big deal, there's limits on rate of heatup and load change.

As to how much they're run, there's competing forces from various departments:
The plant guys want to run continuous for minimum wear and tear on their baby...and startup is a hassle.
The system control guys want grid reliability which requires the load be spread among a lot of plants. That way when a single plant trips offline there's plenty of others to pick up the slack. Rule of thumb is no more than 10% on any one plant, so they may well want to run several big plants very lightly loaded.. And they'd like the generation sorta close to the load.
The money guys want "Economic Dispatch", that is all generation by the plants that do it the cheapest, even if it's not one of your own. They want to shut down plants rather than run them lightly loaded because they're less fuel efficient at low load. On a mild night that can mean one big nuke carries most of a state which puts the system in a precarious position -if it trips the lights go out.
Politicians and environmentalists want older plants to not run because they tend to be under older less stringent emission rules. But they are usually the ones closest to load.

You know, in second chapter of Moby Dick Ishmael says 'I always go to sea as a humble seaman..' then he ruminates on similar conundrums of management.

a. [happy galley slave icon]
Cogito ergo doleo.
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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby Shapley » Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:25 am

Yep. There are people who enjoy doing the math on things like that, but it ain't me. I'm happy to study the theory, but I don't want to get bogged down in the details. I know it isn't good on the plant to cycle it up and down, and it's not efficient, either. Running the plants lightly loaded makes no economic sense to me but, as you say, reliability demands that you have back-up and reserve capacity. It seems to me it makes more sense than to run two plants at 50% or three plants at 33% than to run one plant at 100% or ten plants at 10%. But that is a digression.

The issue, I think, is that regardless of how many plants are run at peak hours, they are left with plenty of reserve capacity after the Sun goes down. It is not at all efficient to run them at near-zero capacity, but they have to be kept running for the demand when the Sun comes back up, so it seems to make good economic sense to use that reserve capacity to generate 'stored' power that can be used to augment or back up the system at peak demand. Storing that energy in the form of kinetic energy that can be employed to power hydro-electric generation during peak demand seems to be working well, given the source. It would make less sense if the power driving the pumps was a diesel engine, of course.
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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby dai bread » Sun Jan 02, 2011 8:04 pm

There's a time factor as well. You simply cannot fire a boiler quickly from scratch. The railways used to get their firemen in a couple of hours or more ahead of time, and those boilers were relatively small.
We have no money; we must use our brains. -Ernest Rutherford.
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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby Shapley » Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:19 am

There is also a factor of fatigue. The cyclic stresses of heating and cooling a boiler can be more damaging in the long run than keeping it hot during periods of lowered demand.
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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby Haggis@wk » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:15 pm

Blue Shield of California will seek to raise premiums on tens of thousands of individual policyholders by as much as 59 percent this year, in what the company says is a move to pay for rising medical costs and expenses associated with new state and federal insurance regulations:

Blue Shield said the cost of health coverage was being driven up by large hospital expenses, doctors’ bills and prescription drug prices. Blue Shield’s Epstein said other factors also contributed to the three increases in five months.

On Oct. 1, he said, Blue Shield imposed increases averaging 18% and as high as 29%. Those hikes had been delayed for three months while state regulators examined Blue Shield’s filing, costing the company tens of millions of dollars.

Epstein said Blue Shield raised rates again Jan. 1 to pay for changes under the national healthcare overhaul and a new state law that bars insurers from charging women more than men. (Some policyholders will pay less under the state gender law, while others will pay more.)

A third round of hikes scheduled for March 1 comes in response to rising healthcare costs, Epstein said. Those increases will average 6.5% and be as high as 18%.

Some policyholders have seen their bills rise gradually over the last five months, while others will see the charges lumped together March 1.


More here.

Any of our Californians affected?
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” Alexis De Tocqueville 1835
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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby jamiebk » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:41 pm

not much change to our company plan... employee cost or total cost. I wonder if the increases are to cover expanded benefits that weren't available to policyholders before? In other words, if the coverage was expanded, I would expect the premium to rise as well. On our plan, we had no significant change in coverage and therefore no significant change in the premium.
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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby Haggis@wk » Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:39 am

Heh.

Texas, California, and the Tale of the Coyote
I’ve already had a couple of blog posts commenting on how Texas is kicking California’s you-know-what. Being a fiscal policy person, I always point to California’s punitive state income tax as an example of bad policy and highlight the absence of any income tax in Texas to explain the success of that state.
But sometimes it’s just culture and attitude. Here’s a joke comparing the two states, but it’s based on something that actually happened in Texas.
CALIFORNIA: The Governor of California is jogging with his dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out, bites the Governor and attacks his dog.

1. The Governor starts to intervene, but reflects upon the movie “Bambi” and then realizes he should stop; the coyote is only doing what is natural.

2. He calls animal control. Animal Control captures the coyote and bills the State $200 testing it for diseases and $500 for relocating it.

3. He calls a veterinarian. The vet collects the dead dog and bills the State $200 for testing it for diseases.

4. The Governor goes to hospital and spends $3,500 getting checked for diseases from the coyote and on getting his bite wound bandaged.

5. The running trail gets shut down for 6 months while Fish & Game conducts a $100,000 survey to make sure the area is free of dangerous animals.

6. The Governor spends $50,000 in state funds to implement a “coyote awareness” program for residents of the area.

7. The State Legislature spends $2 million to study how to better treat rabies and how to permanently eradicate the disease throughout the world.

8. The Governor’s security agent is fired for not stopping the attack somehow and for letting the Governor attempt to intervene.

9. Additional cost to State of California: $75,000 to hire and train a new security agent with additional special training re: the nature of coyotes.

10. PETA protests the coyote’s relocation and files suit against the State.

TEXAS: The Governor of Texas is jogging with his dog along a nature trail. A Coyote jumps out, bites the Governor’s leather boot, and attacks his dog.

1. The Governor shoots the coyote with his State-issued pistol and keeps jogging. The Governor has spent $0.50 on a .45 ACP hollow
point cartridge.

2. The buzzards eat the dead coyote.

And that, boys and girls, is why California is broke………..And, more importantly, why too much government doesn’t work.
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” Alexis De Tocqueville 1835
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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby jamiebk » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:39 pm

This has been circulating with just about each of the remaining 49 states named as the "other" state.
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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby dai bread » Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:41 pm

I have a query about this: do Texans really jog in leather boots?
We have no money; we must use our brains. -Ernest Rutherford.
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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby piqaboo » Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:01 pm

See, Dai, there's the core fallacy. Texans dont jog.
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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby piqaboo » Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:21 pm

I need to check debt ratios - CA and TX.

BTW, Gov Moonbeam has sent out a pretty promising draft budget.
The universities are wailing and gnashing their teeth.

However, my daughter's school district is talking
a) closing one school
b) cutting school staff to principal, secty, and 1 teacher per class.
That means no supplemental teachers for things like language, art, music, etc.
As it stands, we have one supplemental english teacher for the immersion kids, one supplemental mandarin teacher for the other kids, and a part time PE teacher, plus 4 office staff.
Those cuts will HURT.
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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby analog » Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:49 pm

does anybody examine ratio of administrators/ teachers ?

Breaucracy grows to absorb available money.

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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby jamiebk » Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:25 pm

The recent parent's "Trigger" law http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me ... 0269.story was very important in getting more power into the hands of parents to decide upon what happens in their local schools...options: close, change, open charter school etc. Gov. Moonbeam just "fired" the state schoolboard members who were on the "kids first" agenda and pushing what's good for kids as primary goals...why???... California Teachers unions, the Ca Teachers Association and California Federation of Teachers. (From article: Gov. Jerry Brown replaced a majority of the board in one of his first official acts, installing some members viewed by critics as having more traditional union sympathies.)
So what to do?

1. kids first - teachers second
2. require parental involvement in all primary education
3. reinstate "Student Teaching" requirement
4. get rid of Tenure
5. get rid of lifetime teaching credential certification
6. get rid of sabbatical
7. get rid of stipend for Masters Degree (it serves no purpose)
8. apply funds from stipend to reward great teachers.
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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:17 am

jamiebk wrote:So what to do?

1. kids first - teachers second
2. require parental involvement in all primary education
3. reinstate "Student Teaching" requirement
4. get rid of Tenure
5. get rid of lifetime teaching credential certification
6. get rid of sabbatical
7. get rid of stipend for Masters Degree (it serves no purpose)
8. apply funds from stipend to reward great teachers.

1. Without the teachers, the kids do not get educated. This is like saying "Customers first, workforce second". There must be a balance beneficial to both.
2. Admirable goal. Let me know how to implement that requirement. You can't even get all the parents to teacher conferences, much less truly involved.
3. Another admirable goal. I approve. May I point out that student teaching works better if you have a cadre of master teachers to mentor them, and conflicts with goal #7.
4. Tenure does shield some lamentable teachers from the ax. It also shields some laudable teachers from politics. It provides a great deal of stability to the teaching community as the latest set of political requirements blow through the school board and admin offices.
5. Credential recertification should carry a continuing education requirement. Automatic lifetime credentialing is ludicrous.
6. Hardly ever available below the college level. Not really applicable to this discussion.
7. The Masters degree serves many purposes. It is a highly desirable, if not essential, requirement for many of the scientific and mathematic subjects - or did you really think a BS in Art History with a minor in math is sufficient to be a AP Calculus instructor? It should be a requirement for Master Teacher status - those who are department heads and mentors to the student teachers at the secondary schools. It should be a requirement for secondary school deans and principals. I'd like to see a doctorate in education required of school district supervisors.
(An aside here: I rather took the #7 proposal to mean that the Master's serves no purpose. If it's only the stipend that is without merit, I still disagree, but with less heat...)
8. Great teachers should be rewarded. More to the point, they should be respected. At present, they seem to be the favored scapegoat for every politically motivated program that fails.
>^..^<
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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby Haggis@wk » Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:47 am

CALIFORNIA SUPERSTORM SCENARIO, including this:

“The 1861 and 1862 storms show what is possible. The 19th century featured much more drastic disasters than the 20th. In my previous post about the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes (Mississppi river changed course), the 1815 Mount Tambora VEI 7 volcanic eruption, the 1859 solar Carrington event and other awesome displays of nature’s power I made the argument that if the 21st century features disasters more like the 19th century then we are in some some tough times. But I missed out on the California storms of the early 1860s. With nearly 40 million people now such a storm would do far greater damage. Picture a 300 mile long lake in the Central Valley and hurricane-force winds.”


Given all the human-made disasters of the 20th Century, I suppose we should be glad that it was a period of comparative calm in other ways, but I think it did produce a false impression of what constitutes “normal.”
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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby Shapley » Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:17 am

Not to mention Krakatoa, which blew away half of Timor and deafened sailors at sea a hundred miles away.

If that happened again, I wonder how they would pin the blame on President Bush...
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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby jamiebk » Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:19 am

Haggis@wk wrote:CALIFORNIA SUPERSTORM SCENARIO, including this:

“The 1861 and 1862 storms show what is possible. The 19th century featured much more drastic disasters than the 20th. In my previous post about the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes (Mississppi river changed course), the 1815 Mount Tambora VEI 7 volcanic eruption, the 1859 solar Carrington event and other awesome displays of nature’s power I made the argument that if the 21st century features disasters more like the 19th century then we are in some some tough times. But I missed out on the California storms of the early 1860s. With nearly 40 million people now such a storm would do far greater damage. Picture a 300 mile long lake in the Central Valley and hurricane-force winds.”


Given all the human-made disasters of the 20th Century, I suppose we should be glad that it was a period of comparative calm in other ways, but I think it did produce a false impression of what constitutes “normal.”


Well...since it is deemed a 500-1000 year event, and the last one was in 1862, I think I'll not worry about this scenario for another 350 years. However, I will pass along the idea to James Cameron...perhaps he'll want to do a follow-up to Titanic.
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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby Shapley » Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:34 am

jamiebk wrote:Well...since it is deemed a 500-1000 year event, and the last one was in 1862, I think I'll not worry about this scenario for another 350 years. However, I will pass along the idea to James Cameron...perhaps he'll want to do a follow-up to Titanic.


I have to wonder how accurate their predictions of 500-1000 year events can be, based on only about 200 years of measurements...
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Re: California!! It's Another Country!!

Postby piqaboo » Thu Jan 20, 2011 2:10 pm

There's no reason a 1000 yr event cant occur 2x, back to back. Be a nice long rest after that, I 'spose.

We drink more water than we did in the 1860's - maybe we can stay ahead of the storm ;).
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