Energywire – As the moon's shadow raced across the U.S. yesterday, 1,900 utility-scale solar power plants and many thousands of rooftop solar cells dozed off or shut down, one after the other, their electric currents disappearing from power networks from coast to coast.
At 2:32 p.m. EDT, on a park overlooking the Clinch River here, the sun disappeared behind the moon, revealed only by its dazzling corona.
Venus gleamed bright in the odd twilight, a breeze picked up, and a cry of delight rose from dozens of spectators and from an engineering team tracking the impact of the first solar eclipse seen in the U.S. in 24 years. In less than two minutes the total eclipse was over and the sun's energy began making power again, welcomed by the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun."
From the standpoint of the overall North American grid, nothing much had really happened.
Months of planning had prepared utility operators to ramp up power smoothly from hydro dams, natural gas turbines and other generation to fill solar power's gaps, and then pull back these sources when the sun returned. "We've done a lot of work up front," said Brett Wangen, director of engineering at Peak Reliability, the grid monitor for 14 Western states, British Columbia and part of Mexico's Baja California. "The nice thing is, we knew exactly when it was going to start."
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