Brainstorms and Raves

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Sat

20

JAN

2001

More: California’s Energy Crisis, Semi Truck Plowing Into State Capitol Building

Things are so nutso with California right now. Here are the latest updates on two of the more bizarre stories.

Exploding Evaporated Milk Cans

Remember the guy who rammed California’s State Capitol Building with a semi truck full of evaporated milk the other night? Well, the good news is that the truck has been removed and the damage to the Capitol Building is mostly cosmetic. It will still cost at least 3 million dollars to repair, but at least the building’s structural integrity is OK. Needless to say, the truck is completely destroyed.

When the truck crashed into the Capitol Building witnesses were terrified thinking someone was duplicating the Oklahoma bombing, and their fears were only worsened when they began to hear a series of explosions. The major explosions were the truck’s gasoline tank that ruptured and blew up and its tires exploding. Smaller explosions began when some of the truck’s 65,000 cans (roughly) of evaporated milk got caught up in the heat and fire. All the explosions sounded like another Oklahoma bombing type of incident.

Learning that exploding evaporated milk cans were much of the noise scaring everyone is such a huge relief. I think we all ought to thank the firemen and everyone involved for an amazing job of handling this horrendous and messy situation.

My heart also goes out to the driver’s family and friends. Regardless of the circumstances, two parents lost a son this week, and siblings lost a brother. This is really quite a tragic event for all of them.

California’s Energy Crisis Latest

The good news is that we’re continuing to ban together to help conserve energy, and we also got a good break with the weather, eliminating power outages on Friday. While we were originally told we’d be in the clear through the weekend, we ended up having another Stage 3 power alert today. Agh!

What about Sunday? Next week? Who knows, but I’m seriously considering purchasing a backup generator for my computers so I can stay in business even if the power is off. My guess is that companies manufacturing generators will have lots of business right now.

Whether or not I’d actually need the generator is almost beside the point, in one way. It’s incredibly disorienting and uncomfortable not knowing from minute to minute if or when my power will go out, bringing a swift halt to my business, whether for an hour, two hours, or however long it might end up being. Having a generator that will kick in so that I can keep going will have many advantages, including keeping the business going. Having a home office has the advantage of being able to concentrate on attending to just one main location, too.

If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. (I know there are generators especially designed for using with computers, for example.) Thanks.

The bad news is a much longer list.

  • Two major utility companies, PG&E and Southern California Edison, both on the brink of bankruptcy, were ordered by the State of California to keep the power on no matter what. Fortunately the good news above was a major help.
  • Standard & Poor also put California on their CreditWatch list.
  • The gasoline lines were interrupted which will raise our already high gasoline prices and limit what’s available.
  • A couple of days ago PG&E also let us know that we’d run out of natural gas by February unless drastic changes take place.
  • And other dominos either continue to fall or are on the verge of falling.

The Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Report summarizes the continued mess we’re having here:

. . . ISO officials said a combination of milder weather in the Northwest, which allowed more power from other states to be shipped to California, the return of power generation units that were being repaired, and conservation measures by consumers prevented blackouts Friday.

ISO chief Detmers said consumers had been cutting back from 300 to 600 megawatts per hour, which he said was a considerable savings. Peak demand Friday was estimated to be about 30,800 megawatts.

But that bit of good news was accompanied by a steady cascade of problems. . . 

The Sacramento Bee has daily news and archives on this huge challenge for California.

Behind the scenes there are many, many citizens working long, stressful hours buying power hour by hour and doing all they can to help us keep our lights on. And there are literally millions of us conserving our electricity to help in this huge crunch. I know I’m not the only one out there who appreciates all this effort so very much.

Addendum

See my follow-up story on the adventures of getting a good UPS backup. I ended up buying a couple by APC and they’ve been great.

04:24 pm, pst20 January, 2001 Comments, Trackbacks ·

Categories: Politics

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