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posted by Fnord666 on Friday October 11 2019, @05:33PM   Printer-friendly
from the hope-you-charged-your-car dept.

Massive California Power Outage Triggers Chaos in Science Labs

Massive California Power Outage Triggers Chaos in Science Labs:

Researchers without access to backup power scramble to save invaluable specimens and expensive reagents.

California's largest utility company shut off power to more than a million people across the northern part of the state on 9 and 10 October. The outage sent scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, scrambling to save specimens and experiments.

The Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), based in San Francisco, California, planned the outages to reduce the risk of wildfires. [...]The company has said that the power outage could last several days, frustrating residents — including some researchers.

[...] Many labs at UC Berkeley lack reliable back-up power. Some researchers are taking drastic measures to preserve samples and supplies that require refrigeration. James Olzmann, a metabolic researcher at Berkeley, loaded his lab's freezers onto trucks on 9 October and moved them to facilities at the nearby University of California, San Francisco, which still has power.

Jessica Lyons, a molecular biologist at UC Berkeley, says that each lab in her building has a single outlet that is connected to an emergency power system. The main freezer in Lyons' lab, which keeps specimens at -80 °C, is plugged into that outlet. Lyons and her colleagues stocked the other freezers in their lab with dry ice on 8 October after being warned of the impending outages, to keep things cool.

"For any scientist, the bottom line is are all of the freezers getting power right now, or are they not," she says. "I actually don't know the answer to that right now, and they keep telling us not to come in."

I'd not thought of interrupted research when I first learned of PG&E's planned outages. What other "unexpected" venues would be dramatically affected? Sperm banks are obvious now that I think of refrigeration issues. What light-sensitive activities would now be stymied with the power out? What about supporting research animals? There's a lot more than meets the eye.

California PG&E Blackouts: What Electric-Car Makers Have to say about the Situation

CNET spoke with several electric car makers about what they suggest for electric car owners during the "public safety power shutoff" put in place by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) .

California PG&E Blackouts: What Electric-Car Makers Have to say about the Situation:

When power will come back on is unclear. For electric vehicle owners, that poses a bit of a problem, since their cars' main source of power comes from electric charging stations at home or at public stations. Without a source of power, EVs won't get terribly far.

Ahead of the blackout on Wednesday, Tesla pushed a notification to owners' cars urging them to fully charge their car ahead of the blackout in their area. In part, the notification said the blackout "may affect power to charging options." The automaker continued, "As always, your touchscreen will display live statuses of Superchargers in your area."

Tesla did not respond to Roadshow's request for comment when we asked for additional information

[...] Audi told Roadshow that E-Tron owners typically drive, on average, 48 miles per day, which leaves plenty of battery reserve in the case of a blackout. With the figure, E-Tron drivers, on average, need to fully charge their cars every four days.

Still, the company checked with Electrify America (a Volkswagen Group subsidiary) and the charging station operator said there are no stations affected by the PG&E blackouts at this time. The Audi E-Tron's in-car navigation will show which Electrify America stations are currently occupied or not available, though the company said it's working to learn what a station would display if it did not have power.

If that's not enough, Audi also offers seven days of Silvercar service to all owners, including those who left the dealership with an E-Tron. "It would allow customers to drive an Audi from Silvercar at no additional cost [if] they needed to get through a difficult period caused by a blackout," a representative told Roadshow via email.

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  • (Score: 2) by Magic Oddball on Friday October 11 2019, @11:54PM

    by Magic Oddball (3847) on Friday October 11 2019, @11:54PM (#906106) Journal

    California's not notorious for power outages — that's why so few people were prepared to lose theirs.

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