Doc Brown needed 1.21 jigawatts to charge his flux capacitor and travel through time. What can you do with 5 jigawatts?
With 5 jigawatts, you can provide power for 1.4 million people in southern California! The yellow line shows available power statewide for Thursday, September 8 2011 as reported by Cal-ISO (California Independent Service Operator, which manages the statewide power grid). Look what happens to the graph between 3 PM and 4 PM — a huge 5 jigawatt plunge after that 500 kV line from Arizona was diverted to Doc Brown’s DeLorean as he tried to flee from Libyan terrorists.
Besides lights and Internet, electricity makes modern transportation and other modern life conveniences possible. Many areas lost water pressure after pumps went off line. Gas stations closed because they can’t process payment and pump gas. Airports lost traffic control and shut down. Without power, traffic lights go dark and electric light rail trains grind to a halt. The diesel heavy commuter trains – Coaster, Sprinter and Amtrak — ran until the battery operated rail signals ran out of juice.
I’ve been meaning to review and update my family’s emergency preparedness plan. The specific disaster we have in mind is earthquakes, but a regional power outage like this involves many of the same issues we’d deal with in the aftermath of a large quake. My transportation plan involves grabbing a few sodas from the vending machine at the office (I’ll need the sugar) and carefully biking home from there.
If you’re a cyclist in San Diego, did you bike home Thursday evening? If so, I’d love to hear how it went for you.