Father Time flies faster up north
It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity … no, it’s not the Twilight Zone, it’s northern Mono County.
In the past week residents in June Lake and communities north of there may have thought they were going crazy.
“Our clocks are running fast,” said one resident. “We seem to be gaining 5-10 minutes a day.” The phenomena had been going on for several days so clocks that had not been checked were up to about one half hour ahead of schedule.
Indeed, during the June Lake CAC meeting on Tuesday evening, the clock in the Community Center was a full half hour ahead of the time on the audience member’s phones. It seemed that Father Time had only sprouted wings on electric clocks, or those plugged into the grid.
A June Lake second homeowner reported that she recently sat down to watch a television show that began at 5 p.m., only to find that it was only 4:30 p.m. The clock on the stove had lied to her.
At the Tuesday evening meeting several members of the public were passing around year-old news reports about the Power Grid Experiment, thinking perhaps this was the cause of the problem.
The Power Grid Experiment, according to a June 24, 2011 MSNBC news report was a planned, yearlong experiment with America’s electric grid.
“Since 1930, electric clocks have kept time based on the rate of the electrical current that powers them,” the article said. “If the current slips off its usual rate, clocks run a little fast or slow. Power companies now take steps to correct it and keep the frequency of the current — and the time — as precise as possible. The group that oversees the U.S. power grid is proposing an experiment that would allow more frequency variation than it does now without corrections, according to a company presentation obtained by The Associated Press.”
While the exact problems that could be caused by this “experiment” were unclear, the article stated that “wall clocks and those on ovens and coffeemakers — anything that flashes “12:00” when it loses power — may be just a bit off every second, and that error can grow with time.”
As intriguing as this theory may be, Southern California Edison representative Dan Brady said that’s not what has been happening in the northern regions of Mono County.
“We had to take out a transmission line between Mammoth and June Lake while we changed out a deteriorated power pole,” Brady explained. “So the frequency has been running a little higher, which makes stuff [clocks] run faster.”
While the transmission line was down, June Lake and north of there was running off of SCE’s hydro-system, which meant it was not part of the grid as a whole for several days, Brady said.
As of Wednesday, the pole had been replaced and the transmission line reinstalled so clocks should have been back to normal.
Brady, who hadn’t heard of the Power Grid Experiment commented, “We don’t experiment with electricity or our customers.”