Friday, July 8, 2016

Back In Alaska

Steam Boat really puts on a fireworks show

  Yes we enjoyed our trip to Steam  Boat Springs, perhaps our last. Our nephew is being relocated to some place in Ontario Canada, kinda doubt we will visit him there. So this was a do everything we could last trip. He has a out back 4 wheeler and took us places we would have never been able to hike to. Every day was something new and fun. He is quite the tour guide and fun to be with.

Notice man flying off bull and red hat  clown in barrel 
  He has taken me through coal burning power plants before, but they were off line. That means safe quiet and cool. This time he gave me a tour of the oldest type of plant, but it was online at about 80% power. It was another once in a lifetime event for me. This is not something a person can just walk up and do. Safety and trust are paramount. " Don't touch anything" with strong eye contact and the plant operator let me in. I was dressed to the hilt in safety gear and learned a lot.

Clowns working hard to protect the rider on the ground
  The most interesting thing was coal plants are made to run at 100% all the time, yet they were at 80%. I asked and was amazed at the answer. " Windmills". The grid is a delicate balancing act. It used to be that coal, nuclear and hydro were the production and natural gas turbines would quickly come online for peak demand or if a power plant 'tripped offline'. Now things are really mucked up, gas turbines run all the time and wind must be used if produced. A coal plant can only reduce a little or it has to trip and shut down. So load balancing is a tricky business.

Update; great site to play with, shows grid layout now and future etc.

Clown in barrel got quite a ride from that bull

  Dinosaur National Monument is nearby, so we explored it and did the museum. The geology is amazing in Utah and Colorado at that location.

  Here at home, I see lawn mowing in my future.


  1. Didn't know that about coal plants, but if they have to reduce wind power certainly seems to be a good reason.

  2. If you saw the big screen I saw, it would scare your socks off. The electrical grid is connected coast to coast and North to South. The Colorado windmills belong to Georgia Power and Light, yet they add power to the grid half way across the country. That causes grief for Excel who generates power in that region. With the exception of a few BIG DC transports, all power is AC and there is not enough wires to get the power to the places needed. Edison is shutting down 5 coal plants in Michigan, as industry never recovered to need the power. That will put more stress on the grid, if a very hot day hits the North East. The power generating capacity the USA lost over the last six years is amazing and scary. With no more pollution than a natural gas turbine, coal plants were killed by perception of being bad. Both plants produce CO2 at same rate for power produced. Scrubbers remove all the bad combustion products from coal and then chemical plants buy the left over chemical produced. It is a win win.
    A brownout like in the 1970's or worse could easily happen. The solution I heard was build another BIG DC pipe from the high wind, low population places to Cleveland or Chicago. Wonder who would pay for that.

  3. Finally found you! Glad to be reading about your wanderings again.

    1. Glad you found me, didn't have everyone's contact to let know new blog.