[Marxism] Energy and El Niño, Venezuela and Colombia

nada dwaltersMIA at gmail.com
Thu Nov 12 13:51:37 MST 2009

Well, I think Rod is correct and not correct.

First, meters do not distinguish between "apparent power" and "real 
power". I don't know why he thinks they do if this is what he's 
referring too with "Quadrature current ". I believe Rod but it's not a 
term we used at power plants that I'm aware of. It's a major issue for 
big users like refineries and large office buildings. The average watt 
meter (measuring voltage x amps) on your home doesn't know from either. 
It measures  apparent power coming into your house, or enterprise, 
regardless of how much actual work can be done with it.

On very hot days when what we call "VARs" (Volts Amps Reactive) are 
flowing this way and that on the transmission lines, due to line loss in 
terms of heat, you appliances are still going to draw what it needs to 
run, be they transistors in your TV and computer or your hot water 
heater or fridge. The problem is that with line loss voltage tends to 
dip, thus increasing the amps (and therefore heat) since watts are 
function as noted above of volts times amps. In your house, it is 
basically meaningless unless the swings in voltage are very high. This 
just happened in my neighboring town of San Bruno in California and PG&E 
now has to pay for every appliance on a two block stretch that started 
*smoking*. This is a rare occurrence in the US. But it's all a function 
of this wattage formula.

What is 'by law', that's I am aware of from my PG&E classes, is that 
large utilities are responsible for the shortfall in 'real power' when 
the ratio to 'apparent power' gets into the negative. As the delta-T 
between apparent and real power spreads, the watt meter is showing the 
same power as measured in watts,  but getting less work out of it, but 
the appliance WILL spin at rated speed, will 'work' to what it is 
designed for, thus having to draw more "watts" because of that heat 
dissipation Rod was talking about.

Socialists do care about where power goes. It is not always so easy to 
tell, especially at the distribution level, that usage is going to load 
(load is the term always used to describe 'usage'): homes, subways, 
factories or it is being loss to problems with transformers, line loss, 
inefficient pieces of equipment, etc. One of the things about smart grid 
metering is that it gives better feed back to the utility on when, how 
and why power is being used. But you have to have those meters. Even in 
a socialist society, we'll want to use meters for statistical analysis.

Thanks to Les for pointing out these links and explaining some of these 
ridiculously technical jargon.

One lesson to draw from this is Jeveron's Paradox: the cheaper and more 
plentiful energy is, the more people will use it. Or load will grow to 
capacity. Thus, to answer someones question about bumping up against 
capacity, yes, all countries that are developing, regardless of levels 
of efficiency, conservation, etc will eventually bump up against 
capacity. This is partly the reason we had an energy crisis in 
California in 2000 during deregulation: the state adopted a very 
effective energy efficiency program in the 1970s and 1980s and refused 
to allow the building of more power plants. They didn't account for 
growth. Period.


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