Solar flare knocks out some radio, grid OK

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal forecasters say a brief but strong solar flare Wednesday morning temporarily blacked out a few radio communication systems before weakening.

Space Weather Prediction Center forecaster Christopher Balch said it affected radio that uses part of the upper atmosphere. That includes some radar and plane systems, but not all, and amateur radio.

Built-in or portable? Choosing the right generator

As storms have become more severe in many parts of the country and power outages more frequent, home generators have gone from luxury items to mainstream ones.

Prices have come down, thanks to growing demand and cheaper technology. But the idea of buying and installing one can still be daunting, mainly because there are so many variables to consider. Much depends on how much you want the generator to do.

Magnitude 7.4 offshore quake hits Central America

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — A magnitude 7.4 underwater earthquake off the Pacific coast of El Salvador shook several Central American countries late Monday.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries and no tsunami warnings. But power outages were reported in El Salvador, and Nicaragua put out an internal alert, announcing that schools would be closed on Tuesday.

Power plant shutdowns move ERCOT to rotate outages


Two hours of controlled rotating electricity outages affected the Rio Grande Valley in Texas Wednesday, as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas initiated the action after two power plants went offline, FuelFix reports.

Japan having troubles integrating renewables into the grid


Half of Japan’s electricity utilities are halting new renewable energy projects coming online because of strains they place on the country’s fragmented grid system, E&E reports.

Polar vortex froze gear at power plants, says report


The Polar Vortex Review,” a report from the North American Electric Reliability Corp., found that last winter’s extreme cold triggered multiple equipment failures at generating stations, at one point forcing the shutdown of more than 17,700 megawatts of capacity, according to E&E.

Concerns over technical standards dog power industry


In the new world of electricity generation from renewables, “smart” inverters will give grid operators more than the basic tools they need to maintain stability, but there’s no guarantee necessary changes in technical standards will be timely enough, E&E reports.

Hacker ‘barbarians’ inside gates, Ridge tells Marcellus drillers


Drillers need more cybersecurity protection, former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge told the Marcellus Shale Coalition conference Thursday, warning that the “barbarians” are already inside the gates, “exquisitely concealed,” the Tribune-Review reports.

Blackout hits parts of capital, western Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's government says parts of the capital and seven western states were left without electricity after two generating plants had technical problems.

The blackout began at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Caracas and lasted about an hour. It caused traffic jams in parts of the capital as street lights stopped working and office buildings were evacuated, causing hundreds of people to walk in the middle of streets because sidewalks were overflowing.

Utilities debating cyber insurance


Utility executives and boards are debating whether they need to pay for insurance policies that will shield them from payouts if they’re sued in the wake of any cyberattack, E&E reports.


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