Power companies prepare to boost electrical grid as solar arrays power down –
By Patricia Beech –
The Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017 will test the strength and resilience of America’s electrical grid as it travels across the country on Monday, Aug. 21.
This will be the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in the U.S since 1918 – well before the development of our national power grid.
The moon will cast a 70- mile wide shadow as the sun travels 1,000 miles per hour across the country from South Carolina to Oregon. As it proceeds along a 12-state path of totality, from east to west, solar power production will be cut by nearly 10,000 megawatts – or about as much electricity produced by fifteen coal fired power plants. The eclipse will last for three hours, however the duration of totality (total loss of sunlight) will last only about three minutes.
As the solar arrays cease production, America’s nuclear plants will compensate for the lost power and generators fueled by natural gas will power up as the sun is blocked and power down as the moon’s shadow recedes, allowing the solar arrays to surge back into production.
The eclipse will also be effected by local weather – if it’s sunny the power loss will be extensive, if it’s cloudy, the loss will be insignificant.
While only 12 states lay in the path of totality (complete darkness), many more will see the sun either partially or mostly hidden. As the sun disappears behind the moon, daylight will turn to twilight, temperatures will drop rapidly, and the sky around the silhouette of the moon will be filled with streams of streaking light.
Maximum eclipse in Ohio will cover 91% of the sun by 2:30 p.m.
According to NASA, “the only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun; they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight. To safely view the eclipse follow these simple rules.
• Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.
• Always supervise children using solar filters.
• Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
• Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, cell phone camera, binoculars, or other optical device.
Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.
• Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device. Note that solar filters must be attached to the front of any telescope, binoculars, camera lens, or other optics.
• Outside the path of totality, you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly.
• If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.
• If your eclipse glasses or viewers are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standard, you may look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun through them for as long as you wish. An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed sun is pinhole projection.
For example, cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other, creating a waffle pattern. With your back to the sun, look at your hand’s shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground, showing the sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse. Or just look at the shadow of a leafy tree during the partial eclipse; you’ll see the ground dappled with crescent suns projected by the tiny spaces between the leaves.
The timing of the eclipse will not cause a problem for the Adams County Ohio Valley Local School District as they will not be in session until Wednesday, Aug. 23, but other schools in the area will be affected. The schools in Brown County started this week and as of press time, Ripley had already announced its closing for Monday with the following statement: “The decision was made with a focus on student safety after reviewing the health concerns related to viewing the eclipse and discussions with local health agencies and eye doctors. Early dismissal was not an option as buses would have been on the road during or close to the end of the solar eclipse which unnecessarily places students and bus drivers at risk.”
Numerous school districts in northern Kentucky are also closing and some are keeping their students in their buildings until 4 p.m., but nearly all plan on using the eclipse as an educational tool.
A solar eclipse is one of nature’s grandest spectacles. By following the simple rules stated earlier, you can safely enjoy the view and be rewarded with memories to last a lifetime.”