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BLOG > March 2019 > Flooding in Midwest and Power Plants

Flooding in Midwest and Power Plants

High river waters may cause a nuclear power plant to stop generators in Nebraska. Blog covers how the loss of power plant to the grid is handled and affects the electrical infrastructure.

Historic Flooding in Midwest

Snow Melt Causing River to Exceed Banks
The Midwest has been plagued with flooding because of snow melt. Nebraska and Iowa are among the hardest hit states. Rivers are reaching historic levels causing bridges and dams to fail. Roads leading in and out of Fremont, NE. are completely flooded, and it has become an island.

The Cooper Nuclear Power Station near Brownsville began sandbagging as the Missouri river began to rise. It reached 42.5 feet and was one foot from topping the levee at Brownsville. If the river rises to 43.5 feet, the plant will begin door barricading and other procedures.

Thursday morning, the hydroelectric plant at the Spencer Dam on the Niobrara River was lost when the dam broke and a large ice flow broke into the building. This plant was slated to discontinue operation and will not be placed back into operation.

Norfolk Nebraska evacuated 24,000 of its residents because city levee system was near capacity. The residents of Hornick in western Iowa were ordered to evacuate because of a levee breach on the west fork of the Little Sioux River. For more examples of the conditions in the Midwest go to Deadly, Historic Midwest Threatens Ericson Dam Nuclear Plant in Nebraska, published by the Weather Channel.

When a Power Plants Face Natural Disasters

Nuclear, fossil fuel power plants are located near a water source for cooling operations. Hydroelectric power plants are located at reservoir dams and rivers. These locations allow for flooding events to take place. The largest concern is our nuclear power plants. These plants are among the safest in existence. Nuclear power plants are governed by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. One of their duties is to identify potential flooding sources and supply plant protection options. Even if a plant is taken off-line, precautionary design and implementation for flooding procedures aids in preventing reactor leaks. 

The power from the plants is routed to the grid. Eastern Grid, Western Grid and Texas (ERCOT) make up the major grids in the U.S. with Alaska and Quebec grids considered minor grids. Each plant supplies power to its associated grid. When a power plant is taken out of service, for any reason, other plants on the grid accept the additional load. In this instance, there will be plenty of electricity available.

Floods Damage Electrical InfrastructureBaldor Portable Generator for Temporary Power

The electric companies have confirmed that during this flood period, plenty of electricity will be available. However, getting it and putting it to use is a different issue. The electrical infrastructure consists of the basic components:
  • Power Plants - Create electricity for distribution to the grid
  • Transformers - Step up voltage for distribution to substations via high-voltage lines
  • Substations - Step down voltages for distribution
  • Power Poles & Transformers - These poles route lines from substations to individual areas. Transformers further step down the voltage to appropriate levels
Any equipment in the direct path of water flow is subject to catastrophic damage because of debris and speed of current. Rising water can cause damage to control circuits and distribution panels. The size of the flood dictates the damage to the electrical infrastructure. 

Electrical crews cannot repair damages until flood waters have receded. In addition to infrastructure repairs, every residential building and industrial facility needs flood renovations. Electrical power is an essential component in the restoration equation. 

When the waters recede and clean operations begin, turn to us for all of your power needs. Large floods can cause extensive damage to the infrastructure resulting in lengthy power outages. Diesel Service & Supply/Generator Source has been in the generator business for more than 35 years. We can supply emergency and backup power to accommodate any situation. We also offer rental solutions for temporary power requirements. Contact Us and we can provide a generator and arrange for shipping.

 
 

Diesel Blog Team | 3/14/2019 4:02:32 PM | 0 comments
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