Blog Archive

Friday, October 30, 2009

Another World -- Delayed

It would be great if everyone would watch Now on PBS tonight. It is on KET1 at 8:30. The video above is nice, but it just has more punch when you actually watch the program on television...especially on EPB cable! (sorry about the shameless plug)

The program does a great job helping everyone see the sort of relationship between energy consumers and energy providers that we have been trying to bring about in Glasgow, both from the EPB's perspective and from Sustainable Glasgow's perspective. For those of you who might have read my recent series of articles entitled Another World - Parts 1 - 3, you got a good feel for how we have been planning the technology to change this relationship. We were counting heavily on being able to roll the technology out to the whole community over the next couple of years through the economic stimulus funds announced earlier this year and administered through the US Department of Energy (DOE). Unfortunately, just this week the winners of those grants were announced and Glasgow was not among the successful applicants.

In fact, of the $3.4 billion made available for "smart grid" projects, no cities in Kentucky were given a dime. Meanwhile, places like Chattanooga and Knoxville, and Memphis got hundreds of millions of dollars for projects. It sort of makes you wonder just what a city like Glasgow, who has moved the infotricity ball steadily down the field for twenty years, would have to do to be considered worthy of some modicum of support from our federal government. Weren't we supposed to be represented by an exceedingly connected and powerful Senator? Hmmm...

So, that means we are back to where we have always been, doing the hard work and science of understanding how to change the way people use electric power all by ourselves. That means that the new world we discussed over the last few weeks, and the one better represented in the video story about Denmark, is going to be a bit slower in coming and a lot more expensive for us to put in place, but we are not about to give up on the idea. Stay tuned for our continued work with Google and other technology partners to bring new technology to the people of Glasgow. We can probably move more quickly and learn more by continuing our guerrilla warfare methods than we could have done if we had gotten all of that money anyway (even though I certainly would have liked to have experienced what life would be like with someone giving us money).
Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Second Power Delivery Point for Glasgow - On the Way

After five years of study, planning, pondering, and design, the Glasgow EPB just gave final approval to the plan to build a second power delivery point for the City of Glasgow. For the last thirty five years Glasgow’s electricity, all of it, came through a single substation at Haywood. Like the author, this station is aging and its reliability has become of great concern, since there are multiple devices in the substation that could fail, resulting in a complete loss of power for Glasgow. Obviously, this is something we must avoid.

Still, the decision has been difficult. On the one hand, one might feel that, since the city has been served well by one delivery point for the last several decades, the risk of failure is low and we might well get by a few more decades without making this major investment. If we could become comfortable with this risk, we certainly could save a lot of money. However, aging infrastructure is leading to disasters in other communities. The levees in New Orleans, the Interstate 35 bridge collapse in Minnesota, and other failures where saving money lead to disaster, and ultimately far greater cost, certainly weighed heavily on our minds as we pondered this decision.

On the other hand, refurbishing the Haywood Substation was really not a viable option. Replacing major components of the substation would require that the substation be out of service for an extended period. If this substation were out of service, everyone in Glasgow would be in the dark. So, we are officially beginning the construction of a new power delivery point which will be located off Tompkinsville Road near where it crosses the Cumberland Parkway. TVA has already constructed about seven miles of new 161 kV transmission line to serve the new substation. Soon, a local construction company, Larry Glass Construction, will start the earthwork necessary to build the substation. By the end of 2010, this new asset should be serving our community and the arterial portions of our electric power network in Glasgow will be vastly more robust. That does not mean that car wrecks, storms, and critters will not be able to cause some power outages. It does mean that our whole city will have a redundant source of power should any major component fail in either the old substation or the new one. It means we will not be guilty of putting short term savings over long term attention to the infrastructure necessary to make our homes safe and secure.

Of course, this improved power delivery system is going to cost money; a lot of money. By the time all costs for construction and upgrades to our transmission lines are in, the new delivery point will cost about $7 million. To make the payments on this additional debt, we have already asked for permission from TVA for a retail rate increase to become effective in January 2010. This increase will likely amount to something in the neighborhood of a 3% increase to the monthly power bills for all customers of Glasgow EPB. We will keep you posted on the details of this increase as the numbers firm up over the next few weeks. As we all know, this will be particularly difficult since some large power users have left us over the last several months due to the economic downturn, and others certainly could leave in the future. So, knowing just how much rates will need to increase will require us to have an accurate crystal ball which can predict what city-wide electricity usage is going to be over the next several years. Please let us know if you have one of those.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009

EPB Cable and UK Men's Basketball

As the television watching season comes into its prime, it seems like a great time for us to talk a bit about what we know about changes for this fall and, to discuss the all-important University of Kentucky Men’s basketball schedule. Follow along and we will tell you everything we know about these matters.

Earlier in the year we were happy to hear that ESPN story link has purchased the rights to all South Eastern Conference sports for a fifteen year period. Now, while we are still not big fans of ESPN because of the outrageous fees they charge us, we were at least happy that we would be getting all of the UK games included in the fees we were already contractually committed to pay ESPN. As usual, our happiness has been dashed. The very latest attack on our spirit is that ESPN has bitten off more than they can chew and they have resorted to selling several of the “UK vs CupcakeU” games to our old nemesis, Fox Sports South. However, we are happy to report that University of Kentucky's Big Blue Madness will appear on ESPNU (our channel 149) beginning at 8 p.m. on October 16. WBKO will also air the event starting at 6:00 p.m. on their CW station (our channel 12).

As we are still steadfastly convinced that the last thing we need to do to the local economy is to take an additional $100,000 per year out of it to send it to Fox Sports South in return for a few games against very weak opponents, the following games will not be available on the EPB cable system:

11/2/2009 UK vs. Campbellsville

11/6/2009 UK vs. Clarion

11/19/2009 UK vs. Sam Houston State

11/21/2009 UK vs. Rider

11/30/2009 UK vs. UNC Asheville

12/23/2009 UK vs. Long Beach State

I know that many of you will find this disappointing. Well, actually some of you will find it closer to horrific, but “disappointing” is a much nicer word. There might be a few other games that are on BBSN (Big Blue Sports Network) which should be available on WBKO or on WDRB on our system, but even some of them might be blacked out if ESPN chooses to do so (don’t ask me why they would, but they tell us this is possible). Of course, even this information is still changeable depending on how well the UK team does and how popular their games are in the early season. We will certainly do our best to keep you posted on this as we get the information ourselves.

There is also a fairly significant change to our KET channels which just occurred on October 1. KET is rearranging things and we are following along with them. For the last several years KET has operated KET, KET2, KET3 HD, and KET4. Now they are moving all of their HD programming to regular KET. They are keeping KET2 as it is and they are replacing KET 4 with KET KY.

On our system that means that the regular KET programming will continue to be on channel 11, but the high definition version of that programming will be on channel 511. KET2 programming will remain on our channel 23 and also on digital channel 192. The new KET KY programming will only be on our digital channel 193. We are not sure just what programming will appear on KET KY, but their intention is to fill it mainly with documentaries by and about people and places in Kentucky.

Feel free to comment and ask questions by using the link below labeled “comment.”