Letters

Overlooked Essentials Your story "Diesel Power" (07/03 p. 23) suggests inclusion of several absolutely vital considerations that are a sine qua non in such storage. Although absolutely essential, three factors often tragically overlooked in most contingency plans are not mentioned in the article. The first consideration is for the movement of fuel from its storage tank site to the generator i...

09/01/2003


Overlooked Essentials

Your story "Diesel Power" (07/03 p. 23) suggests inclusion of several absolutely vital considerations that are a sine qua non in such storage.

Although absolutely essential, three factors often tragically overlooked in most contingency plans are not mentioned in the article.

The first consideration is for the movement of fuel from its storage tank site to the generator itself. We have found that the electric pumps intended for this are almost invariably connected to the electric mains. If there is an interruption in the mains' supply—the reason why a backup generator is provided—the pump sits useless. The pump system should have its own dedicated generator.

Second, the gauges used to indicate the amount of fuel in a tank should be read, and the readings recorded, as an integral part of the generator testing protocols. Unfortunately, many generator testing procedures are themselves inadequate or are nonexistent. The tanks should be topped off when the level falls below a predetermined point. In addition, gauge readings should be compared with periodic dipstick fuel level determinations.

Thirdly, is the essential cleaning of fuel tank filters and the removal of water and sediments from the tank.

Wherever the emergency generator tank is located, and whatever may be the materials in its construction, it must contain fuel, and that fuel must be conveyed to the generator itself when needed. Too often we have found—both in vulnerability assessments and in failure analyses—that these basic imperatives are overlooked.

Alan M. Levitt, Principal, Levitt, Conford & Associates Fresh Meadows, N.Y.

BAS not the Place for Boiler Modulation

In response to your "BAS Breeds Better Boilers" (07/03 p. 66), I cannot agree more that automating boilers increases efficiency and boiler life, as well as with the other benefits listed in the article.

However, the BAS is not the place to modulate boilers. BAS suppliers usually do not have the experience required to understand the specifics of operating boilers safely and efficiently. The BAS system, being a digital (on/off) system, will often call for excessive start-stops.

In addition, programmers are not versed in the application of time delays for boiler lead/lag (different for increasing demand and decreasing demand), warm standby, fuel changeover, etc.

Also, the BAS system is often the last system to be de-bugged, thus delaying boiler operation. Using the BAS system puts all one's eggs in one basket, exposing the building owner to total shutdown upon failure of one system.

The best way to accomplish boiler automation is to use a dedicated boiler control system combining lead/lag and boiler modulation (for example, the Preferred Instruments Model PWC —Plant Wide Controller) that communicates with the BAS. The two systems can work together, but ultimate boiler control must be assigned to a system designed for boilers.

Fred Casiello, Blake Equipment Company, Bloomfield, Conn.

Learning from the Mistakes

Although you are on the right track, I believe that the recent "Blacking Out Blackouts" story (CSE NewsWatch 08/18/03) was a bit too simplistic. The fact is, there is a relatively finite set of post assessment practices that are routinely carried out by utilities following a system disturbance that results in load lost. Data from these assessments is pushed up to senior management and regulators as reports are assembled for the final verdict of what happened to cause the blackout.

Utilities that leveraged their Y2K findings to enhance their plans for separations, black starts and system failures were better suited to handle this type of blackout than others.

System disturbance fact-finding for utilities is both tedious and very interesting, and hopefully, lessons learned will be channeled back to ensure that better response and mitigation measures are taken in the future.

To the story's point that people will have a stronger interest in on-site power now, I concur, primarily in the metro areas. But in moving forward, I think readers need more help in identifying the people who write the funding for reliability centered projects, such as onsite power, distributed generation, UPS, etc. Specifically, they need to be able to answer the question: How can I leverage events, such as blackouts, to get the critical funding I need for these projects?

I look forward to subsequent articles covering this topic.

Sam Mullen, Author, Emergency Planning Guide for Utilities

Greed and Ethics Don't Mix

I read your June Editor's Viewpoint, "Martha, Greed and the Right Thing," (p. 7) with interest. The move toward a world economy is certainly causing a tough transition for workers. I'm not sure exactly what you're suggesting that businesses do to protect the livelihood of Americans, but unfortunately, I believe that whatever protection is offered will only be temporary because economics will always rule.

Case in point is the whole Enron situation, and, of course this all boils down to ethics. A recent article on this subject appeared in Electric Utility Week talking about Enron engineers and how they took destructive actions to increase power congestion in California so that the company would have an unfair competitive advantage. The piece really raises the opportunity to address ethics, specifically, as the author Jack Casazza noted, "How do we balance our obligations to our employer [in making more profits] with our obligations to the public?"

If he was aware of the engineers' creed or our registration laws, where the paramount concern is for the safety, health and welfare of the public, this would not even be a question.

But, in getting back to your point about taking care of people, you are right in that there has to be some way to ease people through the transition [of losing their jobs to technology or lesser paid overseas workers]. This "imagineering," as you call it, however, needs to be implemented sooner than later because as the world shrinks, no one is going to be able to hold back the economic tide for too long.

Stan Nurnberger, Gulf Power Co., Pensacola, Fl.





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