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#136645 - 04/20/03 09:33 AM Where's the power?
C-H Offline


Registered: 09/17/02
Posts: 1508
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
I think I can bring up the war on Iraq without being political. The following article is from the the Washington Post.

U.S., Iraq finger-pointing about electricity shutdown

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran

BAGHDAD, Iraq - At 8 p.m. on April 3, as U.S. tanks rumbled into Baghdad's international airport to prepare for a final attack, the power went out across this sprawling city. Perhaps the Americans had bombed a power plant, people here figured, or President Saddam Hussein had ordered everything shut down. Either way, they assumed, once the government fell and U.S. forces asserted control here, the lights and the air conditioning would be on again.

That never happened. Although it has been a week since U.S. troops swept into Baghdad, the power still is out - and nobody can figure out why.

The Americans are convinced it was because of Iraqi sabotage. The Iraqis are certain it was because of U.S. bombs. Even the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has mounted a major humanitarian effort here, is not sure which side to believe.

The failure to find a clear cause has hindered efforts by U.S. military engineers and Iraqi electrical workers to restart the systems that are essential to lighting and cooling this city of 5 million people. ``You can't just turn them on if you don't know what's wrong,'' said Marine Maj. Don Broton, a civil affairs officer coordinating the resumption of electricity service in the capital.

The absence of power has had a greater impact on daily life than the looted government buildings, the traffic-congesting tank convoys or the pervasive military checkpoints. At night, residents have been forced to live by candlelight and listen to shortwave radios for entertainment while looters run free on darkened streets. Water-pumping plants and gas stations have been affected, as have many hospitals, which do not have adequate backup generators. Most shops and restaurants have stayed shut.

Regardless of the cause, people here blame U.S. forces for not moving faster to restore service.

``The Americans promised to give us a good life,'' a portly, middle-aged man said inside a darkened restaurant that was serving only tea and bread. ``Where is the electricity? What's the problem?''

That is a question those involved in the issue still have not answered.

During the first two weeks of the war, despite fierce airstrikes, the lights remained on in the capital to the amazement of many residents, who recalled that during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, power plants were among the first targets of U.S. warplanes and cruise missiles. In this war, U.S. military commanders said they planned to avoid hitting power plants and other infrastructure that supports the civilian population.

But on the night of April 3, after particularly intense bombing on Baghdad's outskirts and as columns of U.S. tanks were nearing the airport, the power suddenly flickered off across the capital at what appeared to be the same moment.

Broton insisted it was Saddam's government that decided to flip the switch. ``It was a strategic move of the government of Saddam Hussein to turn off the power grid for tactical reasons,'' he said. Broton said power plants and substations likely were instructed to cease output.

But the director of the Daura Power Plant in south Baghdad insisted he never received such an order. ``Nobody told us to stop the power,'' the director, Janan Matti, said in an interview.

Matti blamed the barrage of U.S. bombs, cruise missiles and artillery fire, which knocked down some large transmission lines around Baghdad.

U.S. military officials have insisted that coalition forces did not knowingly bomb any significant part of Iraq's electrical infrastructure.

Matti said no other plant directors in Baghdad have reported taking a direct hit, but he said they reported that the bombing campaign had damaged the country's highly sensitive transmission grid.

In the days leading up to the shutdown, he said the frequency of the electricity on the grid dropped to precipitously low levels because pylons had been toppled and wires had shorted out. ``The grid had become very unbalanced,'' he said.

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#136646 - 04/20/03 09:41 AM Re: Where's the power?
C-H Offline


Registered: 09/17/02
Posts: 1508
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Any ideas what could have caused this?

It seems pretty clear that the Americans didn't bomb the power plants and Saddam didn't order them switched off.

Oh, just in case: Theories involving aliens obducting the substations are not accepted.

#136647 - 04/20/03 09:51 AM Re: Where's the power?
C-H Offline


Registered: 09/17/02
Posts: 1508
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Here is a link to an article (from tomorrow) in an engineering magazine:

#136648 - 04/22/03 11:52 PM Re: Where's the power?
Trumpy Offline


Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8532
Loc: SI,New Zealand
It's pretty typical isn't it, both sides blaming the other, like a couple of children arguing over toys in a sand-pit.
But, I think the fallen (bombed) pylons may have at least a bit to do with the loss of power, EHV protection gear can be funny like that, when it operates.
One thing that I find strange in that story was a comment about the Frequency of the supply dropping, because of Transmission Line Faults, I've never heard of this before, I was always taught that frequency was directly related to the speed of a Prime mover, not the amount of load it had on it!.
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

#136649 - 04/23/03 08:44 AM Re: Where's the power?
C-H Offline


Registered: 09/17/02
Posts: 1508
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Yes, that sounds strange. Could it be that the lines have been downed but not disconnected? Still drawing current, overloading the grid? Can this happen? You're the linesman...

The frequency of the grid is dependant on the load: You set the power plant to an electrical "stiffness", e.g. 30 MW per Hz. If the frequency falls .1 HZ, the power plant will increase output by 3 MW.


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