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Comment "disrupting grid" is wholly inaccurate (Score 2, Informative) 506

Partly due to the title of the original post I think a lot of people are misinterpreting the issue here.

Sudden surges in wind capacity are not "disrupting the grid." nothing is broken, there are no alarms at the control station. What's happening is simply that during brief bouts of strong wind, the wind turbines are generating so much electricity that the Pacific Intertie (which carries power from Oregon to California) cannot carry it all. Power schedulers are feathering the blades of wind turbines, meaning the blades are being turned to parallel with the wind so that the turbines generate less electricity.

What does this really mean? To be honest, it's not a big deal. Frankly, I think it's cool - at times we're generating so much power with our wind capacity that it's exceeding the capabilities of the Pacific Intertie, one of the United State's largest long-distance direct-current transmission routes. From the perspective of the Bonneville Power Administration and wind capacity owners in the Pacific Northwest this is annoying, because feathering wind turbines is like opening the spillways on dams - they're effectively letting power flow by uncaptured, which means they can't sell it. If the Pacific Intertie were expanded, they could sell all of the power even during large surges, which means more money for them.

Really, though, nothing is wrong. We're saturating the intertie, which is a good thing, because that means more power for power-hungry Los Angeles, and more money for money-hungry wind turbine operators. All we need to do now is advance storage technologies (Bloom Boxes, anyone?) so that we can saturate the intertie more often.

As a note, I'm very interested in bloom boxes for storage of power from unreliable sources. The efficiency numbers Bloom Energy has published are incredibly promising.

Comment Re:I went the Dvorak route. (Score 1) 425

I'm in a very similar situation to the asker, in that I could type fairly quickly on QWERTY but with very poor technique that began to cause noticeable hand strain. So, in my sophomore year of high school, I went Dvorak. I spent some months making the switch, because I continued to use QWERTY on school machines, while only using Dvorak at home. Now, I'm proficient on both, but definitely faster and more comfortable on Dvorak. I've found that learning Dvorak properly seems to have started me typing QWERTY properly as well, interestingly. The password issue can be annoying, but whether or not it bothers you really just depends on how you generate your passwords. I like to make my alphabetic components pronounceable, which makes it easy to type them on either layout. Although I don't think Dvorak is necessarily faster (I have clocked a bizarre maximum of 153wpm on a 1-paragraph sample while my Qwerty using friends have managed 130-150. These are not at all normal values, of course, they're from short segments that we have mostly memorized), I do find that it's more comfortable for extended typing.

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