Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Row row row your boat...

Last night's storm caused havoc all over the city. The usual places that always flood well, you guessed it, they flooded again. Juan B. Justo is one of those trouble spots that floods. Mind you, the actual street doesn't since it sits pretty high compared to all the side streets that feed into it. Sugar & Spice sits on one of those side streets.

We knew it and we built the factory with that in mind. Our garage door is street level but the floor is on an angle going up. Our store has a couple of steps so people walk up to the store. We also bought these metal doors for the shop so that the waves can break againts that instead of washing into the store. This works as long as the water level does not breach the height of these metal doors.

So it rained and we put up our door and everything worked like a charm. I just have to remember to get some hip boots so that I can walk out of there in these situations. My employees took to wrapping their feet in plastic bags and sealing them with tape to walk out. It looked funny but it also worked. I managed to leave last night and was feeling pretty good about how the factory and the kids took the storm. That good feeling would be turn a little sour in the morning.

The kids showed up to a lifeless factory. No electricity was running. They didn't know what to do. The culprit was the construction site right in front of us. The building is part of Quartier. They have several apartment towers. This one is scheduled to be finished by 2009. So far, everytime we have had heavy rain the construction site has become a huge pool as you can see by the pictures. These pictures were taken from the roof of Sugar & Spice.

Obviously, we call Edenor to see what they can tell us. On the phone they said that they had no record of their being any problems in the area. I was wondering then what the big semi with the huge generator and several small Edenor vans were doing along Juan B. Justo? She repeated that she knew of no problems being reported. Meanwhile here are pictures of the Edenor vans and pumps working feverishly to pump the water out of their generator room or whatever they call it. It seems that this time the water from the construction site broke into Edenor's generator, which is below ground.

Normally the construction site has several pumps that would be working to take all the water out but because there is no electricity... I think that a snail will have a better chance of crossing this block before Edenor can empty the water out with that one little gas pump.

I do have to hand it to them though. They have been working since 3am regardless of their lack of progress. I just hope that they get a bigger pump. I wonder if maybe they can plug that semi directly to my factory??


SFO said...

Ack! Any idea when Ednor can restore service? How many in the neighborhood are affected?

I imagine that Ednor, like most utilities, hasn't invested anything in updating their infrastructure since they've had their rates frozen since 2002.


Unknown said...

Hi John,

They told us that around midnight they should be done. I stopped by and they managed to have electricity back on for everyone except me and my next door neighbor Sparking Water.

I noticed that the constructions sites had their light on. You can imagine my tone when I call them to find out how they managed to do what they did. Actually I let my wife make the first call. Tomorrow though I am calling.

SFO said...

I thought your hot-headedness had been solved with the recent scalping.

Tranquilo pibe, es la Argentina, no? ;-)


Unknown said...


You are right. And Edenor did send out the trucks again. This time though I did not get the big semi, just a small one.

So now I have a plant that is partially up.

Edenor is hooking us up temporarily while they get ready to change the generator sometime this afternoon.

Lack of sleep will make anyone a hothead, even those of us without wooly caps on.

Nerd Progre said...

You need to learn a bit about energy generation and distribution. ;-)

Things would be easy if a small 'undergound generator' could feed a whole city. ;-))

What was flooded, in any case, was a transformer site.

Electricity is generated at high voltage (alta tension), and the source can be natual gas-diesel generators or mainly hydroelectric

In fact, Yacireta is the world's 2nd largest dam and supplies a high percentage of Argentina's power, along with Atucha, one of the two operating nuclear power plants.

Then, the power is moved across the country's high-voltage grid which runs around 6,800 Km (4,225 miles) interconnecting 19 provinces using towers like these:

Then, the power is downconverted from 500,000 volts to between 7,500 and 14,000 volts at converting "sub stations", that look like this:

or sometimes in urban areas are housed with walls and a roof above it and look like this

(this is so you know what it means when power goes out and the lady tells you it's a problem at a "subestacion").

THEN, the power is further reduced from "media tension" to "baja tension" (low voltage) by TRANSFORMERS operated by the energy distributor (Edenor or Edesur depending on your geographical location in BA city).

Transformers can be "outdoors" in the outskirts of the city, like this
or more frequently in areas with a high population density, located underground (camaras subterraneas).

Those look like this:

In short: there is no "generator"... it was a camara subterranea, in other words, an underground transformer... the ones which convert from "baja tension" (low voltage grid) operated by Edesur/Edenor, and delivers 380v to industry and 220v to your home-office, downconverted from 7500 volts.

Hope this helps. And yes, I'm a nitpicker techie with attention to details. ;-)


Unknown said...


Thanks! I love the detail that you put into your comment. I appreciate it a great deal and I admire people who get into the details of things.

So thanks to you I now know that it was an underground generator that they had to replace. It took them a while becuase they could not figure out why we were the only ones that didn't get any "juice".

This time I gave them some cookies when they were done. I was also grateful that they came over to make sure I had electricity and not like the first group that just packed up and left, literaly leaving me in the dark.