COSTLY U.S. POWER GRID TESTS APPROVED WITHOUT PUBLIC CONSENT
August 5, 2011
On June 27, 2011, CBS News reported: “…A yearlong experiment with America's electric grid could mess up traffic lights, security systems and some computers and make plug-in clocks and appliances like programmable coffeemakers run up to 20 minutes fast...”  CBS News also reported that: “…Tom O'Brian, who heads the time and frequency division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, expects widespread (unspecified) effects...” .
The CBS report did not specify who approved this test. This test will begin without public consent, substantial public notice or public debate in mid-July 2011 . This test could disrupt so many businesses, state and local governments, and other government agencies, that it could quickly become a National Security nightmare and a massive public headache.
"A lot of people are going to have things break and they're not going to know why," said Demetrios Matsakis, head of the time service department at the U.S. Naval Observatory, one of two official timekeeping agencies in the federal government…This will be an interesting experiment to see how dependent our timekeeping is on the power grid, Matsakis said. [1-2].
According to CBS News, “…The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), runs the nation's interlocking web of transmission lines and power plants and they will be conducting the tests…” [1, 3]. Will this company be liable for appliance replacement and other costs associated with these tests?
The disruptions from these tests may have the following consequences according to various news reports:
1) CBS News Reports: “…The group that oversees the U.S. power grid (NERC), is proposing an experiment that would allow more frequency variation than it does now without (time) corrections, according to a company presentation obtained by The Associated Press... "Is anyone using the grid to keep track of time?...McClelland said. "Let's see if anyone complains if we eliminate it.” …No one is sure what will be affected…”  This appears to be an experiment to permanently eliminate time corrections.
2) CBS News: “…A June 14 company presentation spelled out the potential effects of the change: East Coast clocks may run as much as 20 minutes fast over a year, but West Coast clocks are only likely to be off by 8 minutes. In Texas, it's only an expected speedup of 2 minutes. Some parts of the grid, like in the East, tend to run faster than others. Errors add up. If the grid averages just over 60 cycles a second, clocks that rely on the grid will gain 14 seconds per day, according to the company's presentation…” This could mean that your clocks and other appliances plugged into the electricity grid, will no longer be accurate while the tests are being conducted for at least one year.
3) Time Disruptions - How will people who don't have Internet or Cell Phone access be able to get the correct time since telephone companies don't offer this service anymore? This company presumes to believe that everyone has access to the Internet and will have instant correct time…this is not the case.
4) Appliances, cooking timers, SMART Meters, clocks, and other items that are time sensitive could be disrupted or completely fail.
5) The article does not address problems that may occur in hospitals, during surgeries, when using time sensitive equipment. This type of equipment may be highly sensitive to time variations. Other industries and businesses may also have problems and may have to make many costly adjustments. Who will pay these costs?
6) CBS News: “…Spokeswoman Kimberly Mielcarek said the company is still discussing the test and gauging reactions to its proposal, and may delay the experiment a bit…”  This company has no idea what problems these tests will have on the public and our electric grid. It is just an experiment and they are taking no financial responsibility for the consequences if these tests have negative, unknown consequences.
7) These tests are to last one year. This seems like a long time to conduct these tests. This company should be able to conduct small tests over limited areas in order to perform the same type of testing. And this should be heavily reviewed and studied in advance of any testing.
8) If the federal government provides the time, via telephone, the location and number were not noted in the CBS article.
The public should not have to rely on leaving our computers and cell phones, using extra electricity, just to make sure that we have the correct time. And we have no idea if our computers and other gadgets will work while these tests are being conducted.
If our appliances and other equipment break because of these grid experiments who is going to pay our costs? If these tests cost local, city, and county governments money to respond to problems associated with these tests, who pay the costs of fixing or repairing them?
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There needs to be congressional hearings and a public debate before these tests are approved. To be at the mercy of a private company, that has decided on a “whim”, and without any idea of the problems and consequences that their power grid tests will cause, is unthinkable at this time.
Stop the Tests, Let the Public Debate Begin, and Contact your Elected Officials and let them know that you expect that they will take action to protect the public interest. We need a comprehensive investigation prior to any experiments being initiated.
The United States Naval Observatory (USNO) provides a wide range of astronomical data and products, and serves as the official source of time for the U.S. Department of Defense and a standard of time for the entire United States.
5- For more Information on the Health Hazards from Energy Efficient Light Bulbs. See EPA Hazmat Warnings for Home Breakage and Disposal
© 2011 - Rosalind Peterson - All Rights Reserved