Air Pollution Control Equipment Services, Coal, Gas

UFOops!

Issue 3 and Volume 113.

Alien life enthusiasts the world over were thrilled in January when a wind turbine in eastern England was damaged, perhaps by a UFO strike.

According to reports, which included supermarket tabloids, local residents were jarred awake around 4 am by the accident, which came soon after strange lights were seen headed toward the 290-ft-tall generator towers. One 65-foot-long turbine blade was reported missing after the accident.

One witness described looking out his window and seeing a “massive ball of light with tentacles going right down to the ground” over the Fen Farm wind facility east of London. He said: “It was huge. With the tentacles it looked just like an octopus.”

Wind farm company Ecotricity said it didn’t know what caused the problem with its turbine and was investigating. It acknowledged a number of culprits: collision (UFO included), lightning, material failure, design failure and maintenance failure.

Sadly for UFO buffs, company investigators saw no overt sign of a UFO collision.

“If an object collided with the turbine you would expect some debris on the ground and some ‘exchange’ of materials on the blade surface,” the company said. What seems more likely is that the fallen blade hit and broke the second blade on the way down.

“I believe absolutely that intelligent life exists in the universe,” said Dale Vince, Ecotricity managing director. “But I doubt that if it could get here from another galaxy it would crash into a windmill—then again accidents will happen.”


Drive Toward Climate Change

The U.S. Climate Action Partnership issued a paper in January calling for an 80 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Ralph Izzo, chairman, president and CEO of PSEG, says nothing less than the complete electrification of the U.S. transportation sector will get us to that goal. Fellow CEO John Young of Energy Future Holdings sees a business opportunity in reaching the goal. After all, most electric vehicle owners will recharge their cars at night. That’s also when wind blows hardest in Texas, where Young’s company (formerly known as TXU) is based. Energy Future Holdings plans to promote electric vehicle use. Question is, will any manufacturer be in business to make them?


EE Motto: “Be Prepared”

Ever been caught with no power in a winter storm? Well, if you have a hybrid car, your backup generator may be parked in the garage.

Seems an enterprising Boston electrical engineer hooked up his house to his Toyota Prius during a three-day-long power outage in January. The Boston Herald newspaper reported that John Sweeney used an inverter to convert direct current from the car battery to 120-volt alternating current for the refrigerator, freezer, wood stove fan, television and some lights. The car ran for a few minutes every half hour and burned five gallons of gas to produce about 17 kilowatt-hours, Sweeney said.

That sort of ingenuity could come in handy in other snowy parts of North America. Chicago-based ComEd says it added 50 Toyota Prius hybrids and plug-in electric hybrids to a fleet that now numbers more than 2,100 green vehicles.

ComEd meter readers will drive the 50 Priuses, including 10 specially converted into electric plug-in hybrids. ComEd says plug-in electric vehicles and smart charging technology are enabled by building the smart grid, an initiative the utility says it is working on.