Preparing for a Power Surge

Cleveland’s electrical grid braces for the Republican National Convention

The Republican National Convention will take place in Cleveland, Ohio just about a month and a half from now, July 18-21. Putting aside all the expected hoopla and tension, we can evaluate what effect an event like this can have on a city’s power grid.2016_Republican_National_Convention_Logo

In this case, Ohio utility FirstEnergy will be footing the bill, expecting a huge increase in electricity demand during the week leading up to and during the convention. FirstEnergy workers have been preparing and inspecting infrastructure ahead of July’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The company, which is based in nearby Akron, Ohio, anticipates an increase that could reach an all-time high in downtown Cleveland; as Crain’s Cleveland reported May 18. A typical July day in downtown Cleveland requires 6 megawatts, enough for power to 6,000 homes.

The company said it also has worked to ensure the reliability of systems at the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, major hotels and other venues that will handle convention traffic and events.

The company said its training includes “a series of readiness exercises, to help ensure reliable electric service for the week-long event.”

FirstEnergy spokesman Mark Durbin compared the system to a highway, explaining that while the road can handle the routine traffic it is also built to move cars along when traffic increases. Over the past year the company has inspected and tested 1,600 miles of underground cable that serves Cleveland. It has examined the system using thermal imaging cameras to detect what the eyes cannot see, and made repairs where necessary. Crews have tested backup systems that should kick in if there is a problem at places like Quicken Loans Arena or the Convention Center and believe if there is an interruption it will be hardly noticeable. Beginning Saturday, before the convention begins, crews will be staging downtown where they can respond to any problems quickly

A view of the Cleveland skyline. The city will host the Republican National Convention in July.

A view of the Cleveland skyline. The city will host the Republican National Convention July 18-21.

The candidate whom many expect will be the presumptive nominee for the convention has recently given some insight to what his energy policies may be, should he be elected. In his first 100 days in office, Trump You-Know-Who vowed to “rescind” EPA regulations including the Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut carbon emissions from the power sector 32% by 2030. He would also “cancel” the Paris climate accord, signed by governments of more than 190 countries last year. Lastly, he has made numerous negative remarks about wind power (in general).

While candidates attempt to turn up the heat, much of the real work will be performed by FirstEnergy, demonstrating the intricacies and skills needed to supply power to a major American city.


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