How Much Work Does Our Electrical Grid Need?

Many of us here have heard of wild lines, and people like me were certain that theses were only found in places like the outback in Australia, or the most remote places.. not true! Gang Greenies have a special gift, they are able to make simple complex problems, they know the grid is ready to charge every EV, and of course, if it’s done at night  when the gird is sleeping, there’s no problem at all.

Wild lines appear to work for the power company when the current draw is VERY low, as the demand on the wild line goes up, the considerable losses in the earth’s return path start to cause problems. You can see an example of Ohms law at work on a long cheap extension cord. Put a volt meter on the far end, all looks reasonably OK  with a 60 watt bulb on the end of that 100 foot 16 gauge extension cord.  But let’s put a little load on the end and watch the voltage plummet! Put a skill saw on end of this cord, or a small air compressor, and watch the show. Wild lines are similar, as the load increases, so do the problems.

As for Dairy, there are no stupid Dairy Farmers, they’ve all gone out of business. The Dairy Farmer that is able to survive has a good nose for trouble, and we best not discount what they say.. I do remember some battles dairy farmers had over ground water, their herds refused to drink the water, the cows knew of the danger, and the humans consuming the same water had no clue.  The same land is now considered contaminated and the water unfit for any animal to drink, the cows knew it first.

As I leave you with this story, I was thinking of alternate titles, “Cows are smarter than my Senator” was a contender.  My Senator has never seen a free lunch she didn’t like, or a problem that couldn’t be fixed via the printing press. Even cows know better.

And thank you Tod for sharing this story.. the tip of an ice berg..

Do remember, I saved 80% of my time in not proofing this post 🙂 If you do proof it and find a blooper, let me know 🙂






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12 Responses to How Much Work Does Our Electrical Grid Need?

  1. Bill knighton says:

    Does the pacific dc intertie use the earth for a return path? Does it cause trouble?
    All I can find is that it has two conductors and massive ground systems on either end, the sending side is two miles in diameter with over 1000 electrodes.
    If you were on a farm with this problem could you measure this by putting both probes of a volt meter 5 feet apart in the field.

  2. George B. says:

    Here’s a wiki page, it sounds all good, except when it’s not..

    • George B. says:

      I do remember a Telco problem years back..

      A customer complained that the phone never rang, but she could tell when someone was calling because her dog would start howling. Sure, at first they thought she was nuts, but she was on a two party line, and the 20hz ring current close to 100 volts found the chained dog the best path to ground, the owner actually used the ground stake to tether the dog, and the season was dry..

      Watering the ground stake would fix the problem, or at least hide the problem for a bit, she lived on top of a gravel pit..

  3. George B. says:

    from email:

    Good morning George, further to articles on stray voltage I should add my 2cents worth. As a former dairy farmer it was not really an issue because….I think… we were fairly close to town where wiring standards tend to be better than rural. Moving out to the ‘country’ to an older (1897) farm house we had it professionally rewired. In this case professional means ‘paid contractor’. A practical electrician followed up! Do not venture into the basement bare-foot to throw a log on, especially when our neighbor is milking or you are likely to get a tingle when touching a grounded appliance. A metal floor would have been a smart move, but I digress. The practical electrician also works for our neighbor and knows the problem is a deficient neutral return but Hydro One, our utility can get away with it. The neighbor tells me he has one drain in the barn where he has to shut off the power to be able to manually clean it out! We also have strange anomalies on the wiring. When our practical electrician was working in the barn and supply lines were actually cut off the de-energized electric fence unit began to buzz due to some ac feed back . This has occurred occasionally since then. Puzzling.



    Notice Richard’s ‘when milking’ comment, everything gets worse when the load increases. It sounds like Rich’s situation was plenty bad enough for humans, but Dairymen know that Milk Cows need to be calm and relaxed, even ‘gregarious’ in order to give a good showing in milk production.

  4. Keef Wivanef says:

    Single wire earth return systems are quite common in rural Australia.
    Four legged animals are particularly susceptible to “step-voltage” the further apart their feet are the higher the voltage.
    Cows are often killed by lightening strikes some distance away from the beast.

    I don’t imagine the SWER system is very efficient, the resistive losses must be quite considerable.

  5. Jim B. says:

    Interesting article. I was not aware that this was going on, that the power companies were essentially using the ground for their return line. I always tell the customer that the electricity is trying to get back to its source. About the power company denying it, our local power company ‘Duke Energy’ seems to rarely admit it when they are at fault for causing damage to a customer’s property.
    The grids a mess. I have a cousin and her husband who both work in DC for the fed and have invested in a generator because they know that the grid is a mess and they very well expect for it to start failing.

  6. Brian says:

    What’s the Mysterious Hum Driving People Crazy Around the World?

    could it be 50 0r 60 Hz through the earth?

  7. bob g says:

    the way i figure it is this…
    our nations highways and bridges or in horrible shape,
    as well as our railroads and their bridges,
    our infrastructure no matter what it is seems to be about 50 years past its “sell by” date, or at least its “best if used by” date.

    most of these problems we see everyday, we drive over potholes and see bridges failing… however

    we turn on the tv, plug in the coffee pot and never give it much thought because it is almost as well hidden as the sewer system.

    one only has to think that if those in charge have squandered the funds needed to take care of roads and bridges that we can clearly see on a daily basis, what makes us think they will spend a dime on anything we cannot see?

    this grid thing has had me concerned for at least 15 years now, and i have no reason to believe that things have gotten any better over the same course of time?

    we seem to have money for all the sexy projects, like wind and solar? but nothing for the backbone of the system that must be in place to take on all this new green energy (that is assuming there is a big bunch of green energy on the horizon, a big “if” in my opinion), nothing to provide for delivering all this green energy to all those green car’s? ya right… the bastards know they are selling a “pig in the poke” no one but a complete moron could connect the dots and conclude anything other than a complete collapse at some point in the future.

    sooner or later is the question, not a question of if, but when.

    bob g

  8. Quinnf says:

    Just thinking further, the I^2 R losses for returning power to the generating plant through the ground must be enormous!

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