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I wanted to follow up on The Orchid's post from yesterday about the power outage in San Diego and southwestern Arizona.

I'll start with a bit of background on how such an event happened, why we are where we are with power distribution, and finally, how this national security concern has been known about for years- but ignored or downplayed.

Background

There are two major interconnects that tie San Diego Gas & Electric's distribution system into the greater Western Interconnect:

SCE-SDG&E interconnect: A northern 500kV interconnect that links SDG&E's transmission/distribution system with Southern California Edison- with the likely connection occurring near the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station switchyard.

Path 46: The "North Gila - Imperial Valley" route, which runs from the Yuma substation that triggered the cascading failures causing yesterday's outage- composed of a 500kV AC line, delivering power from the various Arizona plants (Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station and other combined-cycle natural gas plants in south-central Arizona).

The loss of the Path 46 line through cascading failures at the Yuma switchyard caused a load unbalance that ultimately forced the shutdown of SONGS. In a normal situation, a load unbalance will be picked up with the transmission of electricity into the area with a need for more electricity- like water flowing from a high area, to a low area. The removal of Path 46 didn't create a pothole like a single generator going off line would- it created a canyon.

The SONGS (or close by) interconnect was like trying to fill this canyon with a fire hose. It just wasn't going to happen. This massive draw caused monitoring systems to "trip" the generators to prevent any more catastrophic damages. A similar situation occurred in Arizona earlier this decade, when a 230kV transmission line was grounded- and multiple generating stations tried to deal with the load imbalance by pouring all of the power into the ground. Multiple generators tripped (including all three PVNGS units) leading to a large, extended power outage for the Phoenix Area.

See the SDG&E press release for their explanation.

Why we're here

How could the loss of a single transmission line cause so many cascading failures? Well, apart from environmental concerns regarding the addition of new 500kV lines (a second SDG&E backed line from Arizona was rejected, and is in limbo), the US electrical grid has suffered from a chronic and dangerous lack of investment.

From IEEE Spectrum:

What happened? Starting in 1995, the amortization and depreciation rate has exceeded utility construction expenditures. In other words, for the past 15 years, utilities have harvested more than they have planted. The result is an increasingly stressed grid. Indeed, grid operators should be praised for keeping the lights on, while managing a system with diminished shock absorbers.

R&D spending for the electric power sector dropped 74 percent, from a high in 1993 of US $741 million to $193 million in 2000. R&D represented a meager 0.3 percent of revenue in the six-year period from 1995 to 2000, before declining even further to 0.17 percent from 2001 to 2006. Even the hotel industry put more into R&D.

Our first strategy for greater reliability should be to expand and strengthen the transmission backbone (at a total cost of about $82 billion), augmented with highly efficient local microgrids that combine heat, power, and storage systems. In the long run, we need a smart grid with self-healing capabilities (total cost, $165 to $170 billion).

Now, we can't expect the private industry to fully shoulder the blame on this one. The Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) and other Department of Energy entities (like FERC) have a public responsibility to ensure critical infrastructure is built and maintained. Additionally, state entities such as the California Public Utilities Commission and the Arizona Corporation Commission must approve new infrastructure in their jurisdictions. If just one party (out of sometimes as many as 6- including BLM, USDA, etc) drags their feet or doesn't approve... game over, the project dies or is 20 years behind where it needed to be.

The laissez-faire attitude of these bodies in not truly regulating and engaging in furthering the public good needs to be addressed yesterday. Our energy infrastructure got a D+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers. Hardly anything to cheer about.

Finally, what about this National Security Concern?

Since the September 11th attacks, power stations such as SONGS and PVNGS have had nearly complete overhauls in security. Other infrastructure such as water treatment plants, airports, and harbors have been secured as well.

But perhaps the most vulnerable pieces of infrastructure, the 500kV regional interconnects and 230kV distribution connects, have been overlooked. Perhaps because most people don't think about their vulnerability, they are secured by that ignorance.

Indeed, as we have seen in this incident, our transmission system is precarious in some places. A single failure in Yuma, Arizona, managed to leave San Diego County without power for hours. A single failure in northwest Phoenix several years ago (of a single transformer) left many facing mandatory blackouts during the middle of summer.

A planned attack on these critical sites, which can be found with very little effort looking online, can cripple economies and cause severe loss of life. Imagine if Phoenix, America's sixth largest city, were to be completely blacked out in the middle of a string of 110+ degree days.

This isn't anything new. Talk to some knowledgeable engineers in the utility industry and they will tell you how critical these transmission lines are. Some will even tell you anecdotes about how hunters who fired at insulators on these lines were able to cause blackouts in major cities hundreds of miles away. Not even to mention the effect this would have on the generating stations (nuclear and fossil)- where every unplanned shutdown could spiral to catastrophe.

~~~~

I think if we learn anything from the San Diego power outage, it should be just how precarious our lives sit. Just 100 years ago, electricity was a luxury. Today, we cannot live without it (literally, in some climates). Private and public entities both have a responsibility to residents in this country to provide a safe, reliable electric grid. To do that, they need to quit harvesting the fruits of investment planted more than 70 years ago, and start sowing new seeds today. If this is unheeded, at best we will end up with a decrepit third world electric grid marked by outages and use-restrictions; at worst, the complete economic devastation and loss of many lives due to failures or intentional sabotage.

12:28 PM PT: Per the suggestion in the comments from several users:


Take Action and let your Representatives know this kind of thing is only more likely to happen. See barath's post here: http://www.dailykos.com/...


Talking point: The American Jobs act will create a National Infrastructure Bank that can give utilities the capital they need to finance improvements to prevent blackouts like this from occurring in the future. The billions of productivity lost from this blackout and future ones will be more than enough to justify keeping America productive and safe!


Originally posted to Not Quite Baja, Not Quite Alta on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 11:05 AM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for infrastructure investment (240+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weasel, Julie Gulden, The Troubadour, capelza, Azazello, myboo, Bob Johnson, buddabelly, mofembot, TheOrchid, bythesea, GrannyOPhilly, MinistryOfTruth, PeterHug, importer, G2geek, Son of a Cat, dangoch, Cedwyn, DailyDrew, Remembering Jello, millwood, raatz, rja, DawnN, Russgirl, Crashing Vor, Mary Mike, elfling, Catte Nappe, dougymi, yoduuuh do or do not, 2laneIA, RunawayRose, basquebob, Alan Arizona, nancat357, Bluerall, murrayewv, qannabbos, DEMonrat ankle biter, Brubs, semiot, HudsonValleyMark, middleagedhousewife, kerflooey, Limelite, djMikulec, AaronInSanDiego, satanicpanic, CA ridebalanced, MadMs, MKinTN, ColoTim, atdnext, claude, Mad Season, Sun Tzu, Jim P, Hoya90, ATFILLINOIS, Tinfoil Hat, Ducktape, BachFan, Marc in KS, AllanTBG, badger, RatCitySqueaker, barbwires, A Person, Sylv, highacidity, DRo, dewtx, buckstop, Wee Mama, Larin, corvaire, Angie in WA State, mikeconwell, soysauce, Statusquomustgo, tytalus, Gowrie Gal, kck, doingbusinessas, S F Hippie, Ian S, Major Tom, celdd, mwk, ninkasi23, cloudbustingkid, Phil S 33, wu ming, Gustogirl, Mimikatz, Pluto, bubbanomics, legendmn, Susan from 29, splashy, envwq, eeff, sea note, antirove, Muggsy, damfino, DamselleFly, SteelerGrrl, chicagobleu, sailmaker, whenwego, Mr Robert, sawgrass727, BlueDragon, peachcreek, Horace Boothroyd III, Its a New Day, prettygirlxoxoxo, Florene, Seneca Doane, Rogneid, Dobber, greengemini, nirbama, Dr Squid, Into The Woods, Goobergunch, Ender, mrsgoo, poliwrangler, Paul Ferguson, codairem, Helena Handbag, just another vet, trumpeter, passionateprotagonist, No one gets out alive, ipsos, copymark, palantir, ladypockt, NearlyNormal, thomask, Bluesee, aerie star, worldlotus, old wobbly, Recall, sunny skies, muddy boots, Lahdee, Thestral, terabytes, Joieau, TexasTwister, jan4insight, Hill Jill, Travelin Dave, Nebraskablue, milkbone, dlemex, JohnB47, kait, begone, MsGrin, armadillo, akeitz, SwedishJewfish, sostos, GrumpyOldGeek, wdrath, Aunt Martha, marshstars, Rhysling, Terra Mystica, Delta Overdue, vacantlook, Mother Mags, Kelvin Kean, xynz, CT yanqui, Zinman, JeffW, Calamity Jean, eyesoars, PeteZerria, Leftcandid, bnasley, Debs2, bsegel, david78209, BYw, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, cinnamon68, mythatsme, Youffraita, Psyche, mithra, BlackSheep1, susakinovember, Trotskyrepublican, calibpatriot, Odysseus, Just Bob, Rosaura, radical simplicity, Lefty Coaster, coolbreeze, zedaker, Paulie200, HeartlandLiberal, wxorknot, jnhobbs, Oh Mary Oh, mwm341, jadt65, agnostic, Floande, emal, Haf2Read, Cassandra Waites, Ohkwai, CuriousBoston, dejavu, tle, dagnome, OldGrammy, LNK, RubDMC, DebtorsPrison, phonegery, subtropolis, crescentdave, asimbagirl, KayCeSF, SoCalHobbit, flowerfarmer, strangedemocracy

    "Look at this; I'm a coward too; You don't need to hide, my friend; For I'm just like you" - Monster/Sprite (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites - Skrillex)

    by AZ Independent on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 11:05:03 AM PDT

  •  Good diary (15+ / 0-)

    although I think you need "heel" in the title.  

    "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

    by weasel on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 11:06:44 AM PDT

  •  Grammar quibble (8+ / 0-)

    "Sowing" is planting.  I think you want "reaping".

    Otherwise, good shit.

  •  Public opposition to power lines (22+ / 0-)

    A key part of the problem, of course, is that there is always major public opposition to power lines, and the larger the line (like 500kV backbone lines), the larger the opposition.  I don't know how you get around that fact, unless the entities/government are just to muscle through it.

    "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

    by weasel on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 11:18:53 AM PDT

    •  Very true (25+ / 0-)

      I wanted to put this information out here; I don't have the solutions for that problem, but I think that people need to start realizing that we can't just ignore the problem and hope it goes away.

      A way to solve this would be to increase generation close to point of use. But there is a reason that these lines exist- SDG&E built its CCNG plants in Arizona to not have to worry about the California regulations building a plant in San Diego would have required (not to mention cheaper operating costs and land costs). Out of sight, out of mind.

      Another way would be to research superconducting interconnect lines, or something similar. Reducing line-loss would also help greatly.

      There are many solutions. But with such paltry research investment, none of them will see the light of day any time soon...

      "Look at this; I'm a coward too; You don't need to hide, my friend; For I'm just like you" - Monster/Sprite (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites - Skrillex)

      by AZ Independent on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 11:24:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Generation close to point of use (31+ / 0-)

        can include rooftop solar panels. Especially in San Diego.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 12:17:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right! But I believe large scale (8+ / 0-)

          generation would still need to occur for commercial/industrial customers.

          You're 100% correct on residential use, though.

          Especially in Arizona, as well :)

          "Look at this; I'm a coward too; You don't need to hide, my friend; For I'm just like you" - Monster/Sprite (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites - Skrillex)

          by AZ Independent on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 12:20:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  every rooftop in san diego adds up (23+ / 0-)

            to a pretty big power plant's worth of electricity. not saying it would replace it, but decentralizing power generated literally on top of the point of consumption would significantly reduce the need for major transmission infrastructure.

            •  Every rooftop in San Diego... (13+ / 0-)

              ... adds up to surplus power if you do the math,  especially since peak consumption mirrors peak generation (hot, sunny afternoons).

              We would need to cover an area the size of Connecticut with solar panels to replace every power plant in the U.S.  Currently, rooftops account for an area the size of Georgia, and parking lots add another Georgia to that mix.

              We are friggin' stupid to not be undertaking a massive effort to go solar.  We could be off oil, coal, and nukes within a decade if we started today.

              When the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be peace. - Jimi Hendrix

              by CharlieHipHop on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 05:22:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No doubt (5+ / 0-)

                Start with a current base of 500 gigawatts of generating capacity.

                Typical roof top household pv is maybe 10Kv?

                To get 100 gigawatts from roof top PV, at 10Kv per, you need 100 million roof tops. Or roughly put you need a million houses to equal one 1000Mw nuclear fission power plant.

                GE's new large offshore direct drive (no gear box to break or maintain) turbine is rated at 4Mw, they are working on a 15Mw turbine.

                HVDC is so superior to AC for long distance transmission, and essential to move renewables to where they are needed, theres not a utility in the Developed world that doesnt like HVDC.

                Yes roof top PV is way less stressful to existing HVAC lines. Every drop helps.

                http://www.dailykos.com/...

                FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                by Roger Fox on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 05:44:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Don't forget (6+ / 0-)

                  Single-family houses aren't the only structures with roofs.  You get about 10kW/1000 sq. ft of rooftop (probably more in SD).  How much do you get out of a shopping mall or warehouse with 50,000 sq ft?  

                  How about covering parking lots with solar arrays and using them to charge our vehicles?

                  Build some flywheels as giant batteries and solar alone could more than power this country.  The only reason we're not doing it is that the rich fuckwads haven't figured out a way to charge for sunlight... which is really stupid of them.   They'd be making even more money if they were charging for power that they got from free fuel.

                  When the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be peace. - Jimi Hendrix

                  by CharlieHipHop on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 07:07:47 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  FLywheels? I do know 'bout that. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    wu ming, Odysseus

                    They're used for very short periods.

                    Sure solar can power the country. As soon as the Kilo watt per hour price come down from 10 cents uninstalled.

                    Wind is cheaper than any power plant that is paying off a mortgage = to coal.

                    You want storage? Please dont talk about flywheels. Sigh, Pumped Hydro, pneumatic reservoirs, molten sodium, sure, good science behind it, more R&D needs to get these systems to commercial status.

                    When Industry starts talking about 7,000 MW solar farms let me know. In the meantime the AWC is a HVDC trunkline to support 7,000 MW wind farm off the east coast, that starts construction next year.

                    http://www.dailykos.com/...

                    2nd largest PV farm in US is 17.2MW

                    http://www.energyboom.com/...

                    Saudis are building a 240MW solar farm, using the Boeing 39% efficient panels. I think that will be the largest in the world.

                    In 2008 the US installed 8300 MW of wind. First in the world.

                    Think scale and then price,  right now solar is second to wind, it will continue to be so until we have a national plan to get 20% from solar and 20% from wind.

                    In the meantime, wind is taking off cause its so cheap.

                    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                    by Roger Fox on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 07:34:33 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Sure (3+ / 0-)

                      We need both.  It's not about building huge "farms," though.  It's about building a resilient, distributed system.  Think of it as an Internet model instead of a central switchboard model.  What the Internet has done for communication, distributed power generation will do for energy.

                      The economics of solar are not that bad, either, when you cost it out over time and when you consider that modern PV panels generate a good amount of power even on rainy days.  They also don't mess with bird migrations and use land that has already been developed (rooftops) instead of befouling pristine spaces.

                      When the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be peace. - Jimi Hendrix

                      by CharlieHipHop on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 08:05:58 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  HVDC makes renewables work (0+ / 0-)

                        HVDC can move power on a continental scale. AC cant.

                        Resilient? HVDC is the shiznit compared to AC, HVDC is far more stable. HVDC can be reversed to feed power the opposite direction......

                        We have AC transmission lines that are so old they should be scrapped, hardware , that they only way to keep it remotely safe is to photograph it with infrared cameras to see if connections and components are getting warm, a sign that failure is soon to come.

                        Solar is great, but the 4MW direct drive turbine is a huge factor, with GE coming out with a 15MW turbine in 3-4 years, its like holy crap Batman.

                        We need 500 gigs.

                        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                        by Roger Fox on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 08:27:29 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  balancing predictable intermittent energy (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      radical simplicity

                      helps reduce the amount of baseline as well. lots of them synched together can work really well, as denmark/germany/spain has shown.

                      •  correct, supply gets closer to demand (0+ / 0-)

                        Overnight storage would seal the deal. but storage is way behind renewable generation.

                        (100 gigs)20% from wind and (100gigs)20% from solar, plus, I'll target the 23 GE mark 1 BWR (very old) Nuclear plants in the US (same design as Fukushima) we would need a good reliable 23 gigwatts of overnight storage to make the case those plants can be decommissioned.

                        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                        by Roger Fox on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 11:57:23 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                •  Not all rooftops count. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Terra Mystica, Cassandra Waites

                  My parents' roof doesn't have a southward facing slope.

                  Of the dozenish of their neighbors within a couple hundred yards, three have roofs that would work for solar.

                  Add roof-edge mounted wind turbines of residential size to the mix, and THEN you'll be able to get just about every single building in the nation generating juice.

                  "I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool." - Republican Congressman Allen West (FL-22) Rawstory Source

                  by JayFromPA on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 07:21:01 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Roof top solar PV is great (0+ / 0-)

                    We need 500 gigawatts of renewable to get off nukes coal and nat gas, not including storage.

                    500 gigs.

                    1 million houses with PV = 1, 1,000Mw nuke

                    We have 100 nukes. We dont have 100 million houses.

                    People need to see the big picture, the scale of the problem. Roof top solar is like chipping away at a rock, you use a hand chisel, I use a jack hammer. The jack hammer is wind.

                    And UR right, look at a mix of solutions, if roof top PV doesnt work for you, look at micro and small wind.

                    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                    by Roger Fox on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 07:41:54 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  We don't need 100 million houses (3+ / 0-)

                      We need 20 million houses, 100,000 warehouses, office buildings, and shopping malls and 20,000 parking lots.  We definitely have that.

                      And wind obviously will be a big part of the mix.  Wind energy is solar too, at the end of the day, as is oil if you really want to boil it down to brass tacks.  As a matter of fact, nuclear is about the only source of power that isn't, ultimately, solar when you really think about it.

                      The point is, the sun delivers more energy to the surface of this planet every single day than will be generated by fossil fuels in their entire lifespan.  We need to tap that source of energy.

                      When the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be peace. - Jimi Hendrix

                      by CharlieHipHop on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 08:18:14 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  lots of little silver BBs add up (6+ / 0-)

                      there are a whole lot of empty roofs and parking lots that would produce a significant % of solar power if they had panels on them, and you get the added bonus of decentralized production right next to point of consumption taking load off your distribution/transmission infrastructure, and another added bonus of crude insulation from panels shading roofs. that's one BB.

                      then you've got vast open spaces in CA and the southwest with clear dry air and searing sunlight most of the year, where you can build bigger solar thermal plants that heat salt so that the heat energy can be stored and generate steam-generated electric power at night as well, that can be brought into the grid and fed into urban cores across CA and the southwest.
                      that;s another BB.

                      and then you've got all kinds of wind, offshore and onshore, that you can tie into those networks, that's another handfuls of BBs.

                      and then there's hydro projects already built that could probably generate a significant amount more electricity with more efficient turbines, and which are also great ways to balance fluctuating energy production from solar and wind. that's another BB.

                      and then there's the possibility of wave and tidal energy, which is still being developed but could work nicely as a baseline sort of thing.

                      add all that stuff together, plus efficiency and conservation, and we're getting somewhere. it's not so much a battle for which BB is better, it's a both-and situation, where more things linked together are collectively more effective.

                  •  Any Wal Marts in that area? (0+ / 0-)

                    They tend to have big, flat roofs.

                    When the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be peace. - Jimi Hendrix

                    by CharlieHipHop on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 08:19:08 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  even if it's not ideal (2+ / 0-)

                    you can still get electricity wherever there's sunlight. rooftop wind turbines are less effective, because of turbulence, higher speed and more reliable winds at higher elevations, etc.

                    •  Small scale wind is not cost effective. (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      wu ming, Cassandra Waites

                      Wind is a go big or go home technology.  The energy available rises as the cube of the average wind speed, and winds tens or hundreds of meters above ground are much stronger and more stable.  Figure out how to build the biggest tower you can, and put every dollar you've got into it.

                      -7.75 -4.67

                      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

                      There are no Christians in foxholes.

                      by Odysseus on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 10:55:10 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Depends on which costs you're factoring in (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        CharlieHipHop

                        If you include your potential losses from climate disruption, even small wind becomes very, very cheap. (I say this while anticipating a $5000 bill to repair the driveway that washed out in the recent floods - but only after we finish suing the neighbor who redirected the water from their lot to flow across our driveway, which will have who knows what cost).

                        No one will be immune to the impacts of climate chaos. Cutting your future losses by preventing the worst disruptions will be infinitely cheaper than failing to do so.

                        •  Nope. (0+ / 0-)

                          A 200 meter tower can easily have more than 100 TIMES the available wind energy of the relatively weak, unstable winds at rooftop level.

                          Small scale wind is incredibly inefficient compared to large scale wind.

                          -7.75 -4.67

                          "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

                          There are no Christians in foxholes.

                          by Odysseus on Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 02:08:19 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

          •  Something that keeps commercial and (7+ / 0-)
            But I believe large scale generation would still need to occur for commercial/industrial customers.  
            industrial customers from having PV panels on their roofs is that many of them operate in rented buildings.  The businesses don't want to install solar panels because they don't own the roofs.  The landlords don't want to install solar panels because they don't pay the tenants' electric bills.  Now, if the electric company was required to pay landlords for the power generated on their roofs, we would see more businesses with rooftop PV panels.  

            Renewable energy brings national global security.      -6.25, -6.05

            by Calamity Jean on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 08:14:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  The age-old conflict. (2+ / 0-)

          Centralized control of resources pursuant to political power has been around a long time; a hydraulic empire comes to mind.  Residential solar power is as much a political act as it is an economic or environmental one.  As with the internet, where centralized servers have severely affected the distributed nature of the system,  huge power plants mean more power - political power - for certain people.  100% dependence on "the grid", along with instant delivery of the wonder of electricity,  involves a surrender of autonomy.

          Want more freedom?  Have the courage required for freedom?  Then, IMO, the appropriate path is to decentralize the electricity.  Rooftop solar is the most decentralized power approach I can think of.  Giant transmission lines and humongous power plants - whether coal, hydro, or even solar,  lead to a less independent populace.

          I want the "grid" to be as efficient as possible, but I still think we need to also work at making it less necessary.  The mix of tax dollars should be heavily weighted toward that end, but I very much doubt that's going to be happening.

          I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

          by tle on Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 07:47:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I draw utterly different conclusions (31+ / 0-)

        Building more - and bigger - transmission lines won't address the many, many problems with the grid. All it does is give power companies a new way to leech money out of ratepayers, at an "incentive" rate of return, thanks to FERC.

        Take this blackout: It was triggered by human error (the lineman that cut the initial line), and I'd bet the investigation will uncover a string of human errors that compounded the problem, just like the blackout of 2003. (See "What's Wrong With the Electric Grid?" from Industrial Physicist magazine, Oct/Nov 2003.)

        No one, certainly not the utility companies, has looked to see how much "reliability" would improve if the companies simply rebuilt existing lines with new technologies. (Which also would give them the opportunity to bury portions of the lines, lessening their impact on communities.)

        I fought a massive transmission line project that the power companies claimed was "needed" to prevent anticipated - i.e., not-yet-happening - reliability problems. A different utility undertook rebuilding of a line in the "problem" area, and lo and behold - all the "need" for the new project moved so far out in the future (15 years!), it fell outside the planning horizon. And the rebuild of the old line cost 1/3 as much and required no new rights-of-way.

        Nor is anyone holding the utilities' feet to the fire on maintenance. Our utilities go to the state public service commission and ask for rate increases "to pay for increased operations and maintenance costs," then turn around and brag to financial analysts during earnings calls that they improved their profit margins by cutting maintenance expenses.

        I am not in any way belittling the disruption, danger and expense of major power outages. I am saying that we CANNOT take the companies' word on what the problems are and how to fix them.

        The only thing the companies care about is their bottom lines, and they will pursue anything they think will help that - not the solutions that are most effective.

        The best solution is indeed to look at increasing local generation. There's enough wind power off both coasts of the United States to generate electricity for all our coastal population centers (which is where the bulk of Americans live). There are enough rooftops in Los Angeles to make the city self-reliant using solar panels.

        These aren't being pursued in a strategic, national-interest way because the existing utility MONOPOLIES don't want their cushy gigs disturbed.

        West Virginia's new motto: Ex Os, Ex Mens (go look it up)

        by blonde moment on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 01:13:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Again, we come back to "what needs done" (12+ / 0-)

          True, not all lines need built; reliability could be increased by upgrading technology.

          But that just isn't happening either. The problem is (as I laid out above) both public and private entities aren't being serious in addressing the reliability problems we have.

          Distributed systems are OK... But they aren't going to be 100%.

          The wind generation you mention would get pushback from NIMBY and eco-advocates (for scenery and bird population, respectively) and would also need to be transmitted to shore. Standard distribution would only go so far inland; you'd still have to run high voltage transmission to get any good coverage.

          You make a lot of good points, but don't miss the limitations of distributed generation too.

          Also, it really doesn't matter if it was human error that was the cause. This was the closest thing to an intentional sabotage that we could get. Imagine if this was coordinated between others at just as critical locations?

          I'm no fan of the utilities by any means. But with the infrastructure we have, we're putting ourselves and our livelihoods at great risk.

          "Look at this; I'm a coward too; You don't need to hide, my friend; For I'm just like you" - Monster/Sprite (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites - Skrillex)

          by AZ Independent on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 01:28:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  50 yr old lines need to be replaced (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JeffW

          Long distance AC lines need to be scrapped and replaced with HVDC

          http://www.dailykos.com/...

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 05:45:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Roger, all, you really need to read literurature (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AZ Independent

            on all this. While HVDC is good for long distance transmission. it is not for 99% of the transmission we use. You need to look at how the grid is laid out, and what 'transmission is used for' and nut just make these assumption. I'ts like "lets just build PV everywhere" without taking int account its huge costs (we can debate this) or, storage, which everyone assumes "just needs to be built". This is cocktail party talk, not real discussion.

            AC transmission is any, usually 150kv or above lines that go from one, transmission substation to another...which might be only 20 miles.

            Secondly, tapping into and from DC lines is very expensive. Millions of dollars for every tap because the load is 100% AC. So it has to be converted going into DC and out of it.

            In talking to CALISO folks, applicable to other parts of the country, is that we want some HVDC and even UHVDC lines overlaid over the existing the AC grid. You want to use minimum necessary" HVDC to keep costs down but keep it there, allow for expansion, and so on to wheel vast amount of power. The reality is that "long distance" AC transmission is something of myth. The long distance lines are there to keep grid stability. It can be used to "make up" shortfalls of generation but exists as a *main supply of generation in few locations: Az to SoCal, Niagra Falls to NYC and so on. We should connect the NP (No. Pass) in California with the big transmission/distribution substation near Fairield (northeast of SF, SW of Sact.) and then onto two of the biggest substations in SoCal. This can absorb new generation and more quickly wheel power from NorCal and back down again to SoCal when need.

            This is all quite complicated stuff and though I was in the power industry for decades, I don't understand it all. But just arguing as some of you have that "scrap the AC and put in DC" shows that this is not always a serious discussion.

            Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

            by davidwalters on Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 07:36:06 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  So many opportunities for innovation! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, radical simplicity

        Generation close to point of use-like solar panels on my roof?

        If I also converted to a low-voltage dc lighting system and went to led lights, I'd only need grid power for the high energy appliances I have (hot water, stove, dryer- I burn wood for most of my heat).  Much of that can be converted to natural gas (I'd have to run a line from the street) or propane.  These are better choices for many, if not all energy users anyway.  (I live in the Pacific Northwest, so lot's of my electricity comes from "green" -not to salmon- hydroelectric sources).  Electricity is pretty fungible though, so who really knows on that argument?

        Low-loss transmission lines are another opportunity, but I haven't studied the details.  I know we lose a huge amount of energy due to "line-loss".

        It would be nice to see energy corporations making investments in these technologies instead of pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into tar sands oil. (Not to mention the burning of millions, if not billions of cubic feet of natural gas in the process.)

        •  We're in the process of (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Delta Overdue

          Installing 1.9kW of panels and switching over our house to low-voltage DC lighting with LED lights. I've always wanted to have one of those squiggly rail lights, now I'll get my wish. Anything that can take an MR16 halogen bulb can run an MR-16 LED bulb - and since it will run directly from DC, there's no transformer hum to worry about, since no AC/DC transformer is needed.

          We'll be able to run all our appliances (though if the water pump has to run too many times it'll deplete the batteries enough to require the backup generator). We don't have a washer & dryer, though, so that makes it easier to get away with less than 2kW.

          We've been running LEDs in most of our light fixtures for about a year now, and they've performed well, but if we switch to DC, we can eliminate the inverter for all but the most power-hungry equipment. We'll have a small inverter for laptops, answering machine, and refrigerator, and a larger inverter that will be manually switched off unless we want to use something with a very heavy initial draw, like the non-soft-start, big honking water pump.

          •  How do you wash your clothes? (0+ / 0-)

            I can see not having a dryer, but how do you keep your clothes clean?

            "Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

            by dancerat on Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 03:27:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah, if you have to pump from a very deep well (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            radical simplicity

            it would suck your bank of batteries down in a hurry.  It takes a lot of work to raise that much mass very far.  Do you have a reservoir and gravity feed for routine water use?  And I must admit I am also curious as to how you do laundry.

            Thanks much for sharing your real-world experience in this.  Are you going to stay connected to the grid, and sell surplus power, or just store i in batteries?  I live in the Pacific Northwest, and I think there are many times during the year I would not generate enough electricity for anything but lighting and running small appliances.  A bank of batteries is the only solution I see.  Then of course running as many DC appliances as possible.  

            •  Generally, the way it's supposed to work (0+ / 0-)

              Is you're supposed to have a fairly large water storage tank, so you can most household water use can happen on a single draw in a day. We don't have enough space, so we worked to massively cut our water use (showers every other day, for example, and a composting toilet). Outside of showering, we use about 4 gallons a week, unless we do a lot of cooking.

              We can't afford to connect to the grid, so we're off-grid already. We've spent 6 years using just two 90-watt solar panels and 4 batteries. So this is a huge upgrade (8 250 watt panels and 8 much larger batteries). We did several experiments with refrigeration, but none quite worked. I'm looking forward to a normal refrigerator!

              We already have a backup generator, but we only need to use it for water, and for those days when the weather sucks and everyone sits around inside, using their computers. Then we have to run it to fill the batteries. We always make sure to make days like that a bathing day, so we don't have to run the generator for water some other day.....

    •  I would think... (6+ / 0-)

      ...that a fair amount of redundancy, or extra capacity, could be built along existing power transmission corridors, with some creative thinking about how to use the open space that always surrounds transmision lines and towers.  Just a thought.

      We reach for the stars with shaking hands in bare-knuckle times.

      by TheOrchid on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 11:31:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary... (21+ / 0-)

    ...thanks for the detailed information.

    A good jobs program would provide at least several tens of billions of Federal dollars to begin updating and expanding (not to mention redundification, to coin a word) of our electrical grid.  Even if no one's life was adversely affected by the outage, think of how many man-hours of productivity were lost because of the shutdown.

    We reach for the stars with shaking hands in bare-knuckle times.

    by TheOrchid on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 11:27:14 AM PDT

    •  Exactly (17+ / 0-)

      The cost may have been even higher if it happened only hours earlier.

      Billions of dollars lost in productivity vs the same amount spent on preventative measures such as research and upgrades? Its a no-brainer, to me at least.

      A big problem, is that utilities are hit rather hard by Wall Street because of their intensive capital cost requirements and relatively low yielding ROI. Its much easier for Streeters to invest in an idea company like Apple. But I think we seem to forget that without electricity, Apple and other techs can't exist.

      A good reason why Google co-located some of its datacenters to Oregon to take advantage of the cheap hydropower rates there.

      "Look at this; I'm a coward too; You don't need to hide, my friend; For I'm just like you" - Monster/Sprite (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites - Skrillex)

      by AZ Independent on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 11:35:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No reason for utilities to be public companies. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dagnome

        Utilities can be privately held or quasi-governmental.  There is no reason why they have to have shares exposed on the public markets.

        Use the right tool for the right problem.

        -7.75 -4.67

        "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

        There are no Christians in foxholes.

        by Odysseus on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 11:00:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  and I haven't seen where privatizing... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, AZ Independent

          ... utilities has been BETTER for end users / ratepayers, then the original municipally-owned utilities.

          In most cases, rates have nNOT been as low, and many useful services (like free lightbulb replacement, appliance repairs, etc.,) have been eliminated.

          Profit-making corporations are NOT the universal answer to ALL of life's issues, despite America's love affair with capitalism.

          Sometimes, governmental ownership and/or non-profit cooperatives deliver a better result, and with far less "greed" to get in the way.

          For a better America, vote the GOP out of office whenever and wherever possible and as soon (and as often) as possible!

          by dagnome on Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 08:36:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  This diary is relevant to all aspects of our...... (2+ / 0-)

      .....infrastructure.  I cannot think of one single aspect of our decaying infrastructure that is not in dire need of serious replacement, repair or upgrade.  The lunatic teabaggers who presently have a steel grip on the Republican party always complain that we cannot afford to do this because of the deficit but the costs will be many times this if the infrastructure is being ignored.

      How many more Katrinas, collapsed major bridges, exploding gas lines, devastating out of control fire storms and mass flooding must there be until we've finally learned our lesson.  We're the richest country in the world but the health of our infrastructure is comatose.  This makes absolutely no sense what so ever.  

  •  Seems like the perfect (and timely) infrastructure (12+ / 0-)

    ... project for the jobs bill.

    A good case could be made for this spending on the heels of this failure.

    Great post. Thanks.

  •  "smart" grid = fail! (8+ / 0-)

    The "smart" grid as presently planned, is a national security nightmare of vulnerability to cyber-attacks.

    Think of new variations on the theme of the Stuxnet worm.

    Then it won't be a regional outage, it'll be the whole USA goes dark in the middle of a heat wave or a cold wave.  

     

    •  This is an excellent diary. (35+ / 0-)

      I've worked in the power industry for 25 years until 2007.

      I've worried about sabotage or over stressing (the real problem) on every hot day at the power plant. If you look at the OASIS site at CPUC you will see the jumble of high voltage transmission lines in Southern California.

      I can't comment on what can be done vis-a-vis MORE transmission lines. I don't think that is the issue per se, in terms of congestion. I think that can be solved with simply more lines in place. maybe a an extension of a HVDC line from the main SONGs-to-Seal Beach corridor of power plants to over the "Southern Pass" (where whole sale rates are actually established). Brand new transmission corridors can actually create more problems than they are meant to solve.

      So you know here is what happens: generators can 'sense' the speed/frequency of the system. They do this both mechanically by a sensor of the main gen/turb shaft and digitally/analog via potential tansformers and 'speed sensors' on the sytem, usually right up from their main bank transformers, and on the low side of the banks as well, between the banks and the generator.

      What happens if generation is lost and the load remains the same, the load will get what it needs to keep going, that is the grid runs the generator. But what happens when their exists "more load than generation" is that the MWs (a MW or Kilowatt is volts x amps) is that the voltage slips downward and is made up by higher amps. The higher amps are what burns up your motor on your hair dryer. It also will burn up a generators windings.

      So power plants FIRST order of importance in terms of relays is to Save Me First", prevent any damage at all to he generator windings. Thus "when in doubt, trip off line". Nuclear power plants have additional considerations with regards to the reactors, but it is comes down to the same thing: save the generator even if it means a system wide black out.

      So, "ideally" load is shed too, that is blackout out on purpose to balance the load with the generation *before this all happens. That's much better than units tripping of line. These are called "brown outs" or "rolling black outs" and can be organized by grid operations if they have the software and SCADA (the system that runs the grid) working perfectly. When it's not you get what happened yesterday.

      David

      Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

      by davidwalters on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 12:05:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Here's the problem (9+ / 0-)

      cyber-security for industrial networks isn't taken as seriously as it should.

      Powerline broadband is what the utilities use (or is most common, I should say) for smart-grid monitoring. The data should be encrypted and encapsulated (most likely isn't) using best-practice authentication.

      "smart" grid is usually just read-only anyways- Anything you'd actually want to have in a control function should always be on a separate network, or require OOB authentication or near-gov't quality encryption. The smart meters on your house? They don't control anything. The solar box that junctions to the utility lines? Probably does, and is most likely not secure.

      But there isn't too much harm there- its the big-dogs (MW plants) that you need to worry about. And they have been "smart" for years.

      "Look at this; I'm a coward too; You don't need to hide, my friend; For I'm just like you" - Monster/Sprite (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites - Skrillex)

      by AZ Independent on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 12:18:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know they put some thought into this (4+ / 0-)

        separate networks for control and monitoring do exist, so that monitoring can be more widespread.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 12:23:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          badger

          its not as cut and dry as G2 thinks.

          I think you're on the same page as I am on that.

          "Look at this; I'm a coward too; You don't need to hide, my friend; For I'm just like you" - Monster/Sprite (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites - Skrillex)

          by AZ Independent on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 12:31:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  where i get it from is people who are... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elfling, Into The Woods

            .... connected to LE and the higher-level discussions about infrastructure vulnerabilities.  

            I was in on one of those conference calls.

            Also people I know with intel background.  They say the natsec universe is freaking out about this stuff right now.  

            I'm at work, gotta scoot, be back later.

            •  Well lets not confuse the control side (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              badger, Odysseus, Cassandra Waites

              w/ the termed "smart grid" consumer side.

              As someone who does infosec and has had experience in utility generation security, I too know that security isn't where it needs to be.

              But its not the whole "smart grid" concept, its industrial C&C at the utilities that needs to be better secured. Let's make that clear.

              "Look at this; I'm a coward too; You don't need to hide, my friend; For I'm just like you" - Monster/Sprite (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites - Skrillex)

              by AZ Independent on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 01:36:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Uh... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AZ Independent

                "control side" = generation/transmission
                "consumer side" = load/distribution.

                Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                by davidwalters on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 04:53:37 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Wrong terminology, again? (0+ / 0-)

                  Man, I need to brush up.

                  I meant the consumer available "smart grid" products, from the meter in to the house. I consider everything meter out to be just like critical control in industrial settings (nothing should be on that net but what you expect, and encrypted both ways w/ OOB signalling for critical C&C).

                  "Look at this; I'm a coward too; You don't need to hide, my friend; For I'm just like you" - Monster/Sprite (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites - Skrillex)

                  by AZ Independent on Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 11:29:09 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  A separate network doesn't protect you. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AZ Independent

        Stuxnet proved this (Iranian networks were not connected to anything external). The problem was user error and vulnerability, as usual, as employees unwittingly installed the worm on internal machines.

        •  Process, as much as anything (0+ / 0-)

          Also needs to be in place. You plug in a non-secured computer to these networks, there needs to be harsh actions and some serious disinfecting going on.

          "Look at this; I'm a coward too; You don't need to hide, my friend; For I'm just like you" - Monster/Sprite (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites - Skrillex)

          by AZ Independent on Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 11:26:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Maybe if we all had solar panels on our homes? (18+ / 0-)

    We might not need quite so much "infrastructure".

    Only one house in my neighborhood has solar and they sailed through the blackout because they do have a small battery storage system.

    I wish I was in the position to add it to my house as well.  

    With moderate government investment we could get there quite rapidly.  And just imagine what the multi-trillion dollar bank bailouts could have bought us?

    We have money for insane wars and we have money for insane bankers, but nothing for the public good.

    The real answer is to decentralize the ownership and supply of power.

  •  Action Link and Talking Points? (4+ / 0-)

    Action Links and Talking Points would be helpful.

  •  On roof top solar: it's for people who can (11+ / 0-)

    afford it right now, with renters, and working people paying for it to the middle class and upper middle class. But I don't oppose it, I'm just saying it's 100% grid integrated, in fact that is what they call it: "Grid Integrated Photo Voltaics". Its good for about 6 hours at best, about 3 hours at full name plate capacity (i.e.: a 3kw system with dilver 9kw hours for 3 hours, then it starts to fall off as the sun goes down from high noon). The average solar capacity factor in the US is 18%.

    Also, residential is only 30% of the load on the grid. In other words... "Its not about YOU" it is about the entire load of industry, commercial etc.

    Wind is highly centralized form of power requiring a LOT of transmission lines.

    it can all work together if the is redundancy and back up and this costs a lot as well.

    The issue of SoCal congestion is real as AZ notes. There are no easy answers. One...one I don't like, is actually the distributive generation by way of gas turbines which they are building over this exact area. From 100MW LMS-100s to 525MW CCGTs like the GE FA. More carbon, more dangerous natural gas. But it does work because you can practically plop them anywhere and they are reliable and not intermittent.

    Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

    by davidwalters on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 12:43:36 PM PDT

  •  Upgraded and improved lines for 21st century (7+ / 0-)

    are the key investment in updating the entire power grid.

    There are 2 great chokepoints to cleaner green energy.

    The first one is the footdragging and lack of investment by the stakeholders is not just accidental, the companies like the fossil fuel energy proponents and owners are trying to defend their slice of the energy market and increase it or preclude other players from having much of an impact.

    The second is the persistent lobbying against feedin tariffs and legislation attempting to shut out wind and solar from getting funded or more competitive with dirty coal and oil/gas.

    That explains why for instance, a green energy wind farm may have to wait two to three years to be connected to the grid because there is no transmission line nearby to tie into. And the competitor generators do all sorts of lobbying, squeezing to delay that tie in because it is an economic competition for them and their fuel suppliers . Waiting 3 years may kill or seriously harm the financing  and building of that project.

    How can America get better and do more than a pitiful 1 to 2% alternative sources for electric even though we pioneered solar 40 years ago?

    This upgrade has to be a national priority, fast tracking, and a comprehensive nation wide rebuild of a smart grid to unlock the problems of participation for many small and medium projects including homeowners, farms, businesses in rural and city areas that have no economically sensible way  at present thru lack of the smart grid to join in.

    Germany, not the greatest wind and solar region, has passed 20%  milestone of generating domestically its electric power from wind and solar. That is because it is a national security policy.  They don't want to be dependent on natural gas from abroad, in this case Russia or the Middle East.

    Where is the awareness or seriousness of getting a policy here?

    Transmission lines of  a advanced, dynamically balanced kind exist and have been built.  They save a certain % of energy that would be otherwise lost in the transmission line resistances and   skin effects itself. That reduces power generation right there.  See GE's projects for Peru.  Where is the national will and determination to do the Power line backbone and enable modern clean energy to flourish?

    A last point: AP has a industry writer yesterday showing conservation, the economy has resulted in households decreasing thru modernizing lighting, upgrading appliances, electricity uses .5% year to year. That trend is to continue and the .7% gain in industrial, commercial use barely tops it.  That means it is a buyers market and if alternatives like solar (already getting much much cheaper and smart scaled wind go in, they can displace much of the fossil fuel generators.  The key is the grid still needs to be built to suit the 21st century, not be a legacy of the 19th Century.

    •  Took me 8 hours (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AZ Independent

      to get about 30 miles from work on Long Island home to Brooklyn.

      I remember it very well...

      --

      Republicans chap my ass

      Me

      by Marc in KS on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 01:59:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the one i remember better (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AZ Independent

      was the 1996 blackout, because it was well over 100 and the outdoor concert i was at had to go acoustic with candles for lighting.

    •  Cross sound cable had not been turned on (0+ / 0-)

      an HVDC connection from Long Island to CT.

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 06:20:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Roger, we have a HVDC line that runs from (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roger Fox

        SF in the west to Pittsburg 40 miles to our East. This was so San Franciscans can NIMBY their gas fired power plants to the Pittsburg power plant and substation.

        HVDC doesn't solve that much. It solves some transmission losses and can help relieve congestion in some cases. It is not, as you seem to believe, this big panacea for what ails us. It needs to be part of an integrated whole alternative energy policy.

        Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

        by davidwalters on Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 07:44:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No. of course HVDC needs to be (0+ / 0-)

          part of an integrated alternative energy policy. Utilities understand this, and thru the Eurozone, Cjina and now in the US they are moving in this direction.

          Maybe you are mistaking my chearleading for a fundamental lack of understanding. I offer to you thats not so. Many folks at kos dont even know about HVDC, though they energetically advocate for Solar and wind.

          Thats the huge issue with the build out of renewables over 20-30 years... is how to best integrate the varying power generation to the grid.

          But I do find projects like the AWC very exciting.

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 12:13:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The cross sound cable was cited as a contributing (0+ / 0-)

          factor in the size of the 2003 blackout by utilities in the post mortum.

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 12:16:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Isn't San Diego a bit of an (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AZ Independent, satanicpanic

    unusual case, because of our geographical location at the corner of the country? Doesn't that make it more difficult to have additional transmission lines?

    "Okay, until next time. Keep sending me your questions, and I will make fun of you... I mean, answer them." - Strong Bad

    by AaronInSanDiego on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 01:23:50 PM PDT

    •  I don't think so (4+ / 0-)

      I would bet some cities on the plains have redundancy and reliability issues just as bad, if not worse, than SD.

      You can run parallel transmission lines with different circuits (I think there's a better word, but I don't know it) to the same destination, from separate sources.

      As a couple of commenters mentioned above, the Northeast Blackout of 2003 ignored geography completely.

      "Look at this; I'm a coward too; You don't need to hide, my friend; For I'm just like you" - Monster/Sprite (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites - Skrillex)

      by AZ Independent on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 01:32:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Meanwhile, on the East Coast, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AZ Independent, JeffW

    a hurricane just blew through, causing local power outages all over the map.  But they were local, where the path from the grid to the place was locally interrupted.  There were no cascading failures.

    And San Diego gets knocked out for no reason.  It's kind of pathetic, when you put it like that.

    Global warming is the inconvenient truth, nuclear power is the inconvenient alternative.

    by eigenlambda on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 02:16:10 PM PDT

  •  heel? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AZ Independent, Cassandra Waites

    there may be a more specific reason, given the nature of engineering problems... ? but it's not an Achilles heel, the whole infrastructure is suffering malignant neglect.  It's depressing.

    ... or I'll leave forever and never come back (and you'll be sorry).

    by GBCW on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 02:20:14 PM PDT

  •  For Michael, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AZ Independent, elfling, copymark

    SDG&E calls up APS customer service. SDG&E hangs up in frustration. APS throws switch & kills power. APS heard "MORE-ON"

    Probably once in a lifetime opportunity to see San Diego's dark skies.  Too bad the moon was out.  The race was between Jupiter rising and the power comming back on.  High fog rolled in after midnight and power came back on at 2AM.

  •  Redundancy, maintenance, security these are SOP... (3+ / 0-)

    ...in health care, aerospace, banking, financial services, etc. If utilities won't do their job then oversight and gov't agencies should exert some leverage. There should be no patience for managing to such a low bar.  

    I really appreciate your diary. Thanks.

    Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

    by kck on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 02:26:23 PM PDT

    •  Youre welcome! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kck

      FERC and the others have neglected this area for too long... this, I'm afraid, is just the tip of the iceberg.

      "Look at this; I'm a coward too; You don't need to hide, my friend; For I'm just like you" - Monster/Sprite (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites - Skrillex)

      by AZ Independent on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 02:29:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not my area of expertise but moved within 22 mi (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AZ Independent

        ...of SONGS...and I understand the budget pressure everyone is under. Some clear direction as to where to apply pressure and the right kind of action is what we all need. I'll act on your suggestion here. A few "clicks" of lost productivity will justify a million dollar project in my business. Thanks.

        Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

        by kck on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 03:54:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  it really isn't the fault of the utilities (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kck

      The utilities LOVE building transmission lines, substations, etc. They love spending money on it, because it is capital investment that they get guaranteed returns on.

    •  Just In Time and Just Barely Enough. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kck, AZ Independent

      will be the death of US yet.  

      Someone in a very expensive suit is at the front door and says he wants to foreclose on our democracy. Where should I tell him he can put his robosigning pen?

      by Into The Woods on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 03:46:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There's necessities in life: health, education... (3+ / 0-)

        ...buildings, food, transportation, waste and resource management. The way I see it the free market is a fine tool to manage the nonessentials. The necessities however require architecture and a rigorous, scientific strategic policy and management which all requires investment. There's no shortage of money and technology.

        Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

        by kck on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 04:00:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Even an adequately defined free market would be (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kck

          better than the short-term faux market we're currently under that ignores long-term costs/risks and ignores many of the indirect costs that are borne by the society.

          But the basic infrastructure, including electrical power, should be subject to more, not less, regulation.  

          And yet, we see no real movement in that direction to roll back 30 years of ill-considered and ideologically driven economic policy decisions on "de-regulating" this and other areas of our economy.  

          And the point you raise is the most galling of all.

          Many of the risks could be mitigated very quickly with existing technology.  

          We are aware of the risks and go forward recklessly ignoring them or denying them.  

          Then boom.  

          Someone in a very expensive suit is at the front door and says he wants to foreclose on our democracy. Where should I tell him he can put his robosigning pen?

          by Into The Woods on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 04:10:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Stability too, HVDC can be stable than AC (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kck, JeffW

      and there are more than enough reasons utilities are looking at HVDC

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 06:22:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  When I heard about the outage yesterday (3+ / 0-)

    I remembered there was a huge outage years ago that knocked out power in a large chunk of the Northwest...that was at least 10 years ago I think, probably more.  I remember at the time there was talk about how the system needed to be revamped before a really prolonged and widespread power outage happened and I'm betting that not much has been done about it since then, so we're still at square one in all likelihood.

    I also thought about a movie that really scared me at the time I saw it...the Trigger Effect.  Scared me more than any horror movie, because it could become reality so easily.  An extended power outage that leads to chaos.  It had a Mad Max feel to it as I recall...how quickly our society could come crashing down and then lawlessness takes its place.  Creepy.

  •  something as critical as energy infrastructure (7+ / 0-)

    should not be left to for-profit publicly-traded corporations anyways. it should be public, well-funded, and heavily regulated.

    •  Utilities are faced with a regulatory environment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, Cassandra Waites

      that makes major infrastructure projects difficult.

      Here in NJ if you told the Board of Public Utilities you needed to raise 5 billion for new HVDC projects the public would freak. Most people dont know the savings from switching to HVDC, its been like pulling teeth to get these projects approved.

      For 20 years HVDC has gained hugely in the world, but the US lacks in HVDC applications, because we sit on our hands.

      Most utilities are public, and regulated. Private operators are a kind of recent thing only in the last 20 years.

      And quite frankly the first private US utility operator is going to build the AWC off the east coast with Google, 350 mile long HVDC trunkline for wind development 12 to 18 miles offshore

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 06:32:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  my utility is private, PG&E (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roger Fox

        and they've been around for over a century (since 1905), and cover something like 2/3 of california. and they do a wretched job, relative to the public utilities adjacent to them like SMUD.

        •  Allowing a utility operator to bid on parts of (0+ / 0-)

          their system would probably scare the shit out of the owners.

          Sounds like they need their ass kicked. Petition the Board of Public utilities to allow for a utility operator-- might give notice to PG&E.

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 12:02:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  our county's been working for decades to break off (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roger Fox

            and either start our own public utility, or join our neighboring utility SMUD. last time it went on the ballot, PG&E threw millions of dollars in ads at our small county with less than 200,000 people, and barely beat us, 51-49.

            then a couple years later, they funded an initiative to require a 66% vote to leave a private utility, and lost big statewide, but only in the counties covered by PG&E.

            we'll get them eventually. they've done a spectacularly bad job of late, PR wise, what with raising rates to pay for maintenance and then blowing it on the political campaigns, and then blowing up a neighborhood because of inadequate maintenance, and then petitioning again for rate hikes to pay for maintenance (no really, we mean it this time!).

  •  If you're concerned about security (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawgrass727, Oh Mary Oh, Zinman

    ...and investment in smart grids -- it will be necessary to nationalize these power plants. Then the profits will belong to the commonwealth and they can readily be used to build out the necessary infrastructure and pay for the solar panels for the American people.

    In this century, privately owned public utilities have a conflict of interest between greedy shareholders and the survival of the people.

    Most modern nations own their own power plants. Japan used to until WWII, as a matter of fact. During our occupation Japan we forced privatization on their state-owned power system, and Tepco was born. And, then came Fukushima.

  •  What Happened at CAISO? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AZ Independent, shaggies2009

    The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) i s primarily tasked with maintaining the reliability of the system.  They have annual cycles testing the reliability of the system with power flow studies that should have quite easily detected this potential failure.  It is known as an n-1 and it is a standard reliability test.

    Now with that beside the point, the CAISO alone last year approved $1.2 billion in reliability improvements to the system.

    Ok now a second point, FERC has just issued Order 1000 which requires far more regional planning, where the interconnects take place.

    Utilities LOVE to build transmission lines, because they get a guaranteed rate of return on the capital investment.  The people who object to transmission lines are local advocacy, ratepayers, and yes, environmental groups.  I absolutely think these groups are vital to determining new transmission infrastructure, but this is what primarily makes it more difficult.

  •  Excellent diary -- one of the gems of dkos (5+ / 0-)

    Diaries like this represent why I feel that dkos keeps me very well informed about a variety of matters.  So much I didn't know before I opened the diary.  From the get-go, the diary is reminiscent of fishgrease's educational diaries after the BPO oil spill.    

  •  As someone who keeps the lights on (5+ / 0-)

    I will say that you hit the nail on the head here: apart from environmental concerns regarding the addition of new 500kV lines.

    No one wants a transmission line on their property. Hell, they don't even want to see them. And heavens forbid we try to trim your trees to keep them off the lines. But the second the power goes out everyone freaks out. Now, I will say that what keeps me up at night is the lack of maintenance dollars. We fix it when its broken. And a lot of the grid is pretty damn precariously working as is.

    "The next time everyone will pay for it equally, and there won't be any more Chosen Nations, or any Others. Poor bastards all." ~The Boomer Bible

    by just another vet on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 03:58:55 PM PDT

    •  Maintenance is important and is the first thing... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW

      to cut so that mgmt can get their bonuses in any industry.
      But why did one element failing cause all the other elements to shutdown? You would think there would be plenty of circuit breakers to isolate the problem.

      That may require having a controlled outage but not the whole southwest. Same thing happend in the northeast  blackout. The only thing that saved new england (as I remember) is one breaker worked and did it's job; isolated us from New York.

      •  Without knowing all (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Oh Mary Oh, JeffW

        of the specifics, I can't really comment on the how. But I can say that you would be surprised how antiquated much of our grid is. I worked on a line recently that has been in use since at least 1917. But the other post mentioned quotes someone talking about the hot weather. Same issue we had in Texas all summer. We dipped way below the limit and only survived by buying juice from our neighbors. To be honest I am amazed our system held.

        "The next time everyone will pay for it equally, and there won't be any more Chosen Nations, or any Others. Poor bastards all." ~The Boomer Bible

        by just another vet on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 06:01:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ohmic losses in hot weather are horrible (0+ / 0-)

          A vicious cycle.

          UR right- lots of our grid dates from rural electrification
          programs from FDR, the post WW2 boom. We're talking about the vast majority being at least 40-50 years old, at a minimum.

          Utilities are taking a serious look at HVDC these days.

          http://www.dailykos.com/...

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 09:32:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Folks for all the boutique and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jeff in nyc, JeffW, AZ Independent

    industrial strength wind and solar suggestions and avoiding the very cost issues...not the price you and I pay but the huge subsidies involved...you are STILL going to need very robust high voltage grid to even MAKE wind turbines and solar cells, not to mention everything else we use.

    This means vast amounts of 24/7 baseload electricity in some form of non-carbon emissions. It will me a stronger grid, smarter, but not necessarily more corridors for them. We can upgrade existing lines.

    Choices will have to be made on how both generate and distribute energy.

    Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

    by davidwalters on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 05:02:33 PM PDT

    •  Nuclear and fossil don't get HUGE subsidies? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh, Zinman, Odysseus, tle

      hidden ones like a war and military adventure to overturn state energy complexes (the Iraq national oil company ) and throw the market open at a cost of a trillion dollars?Nuclear gets special financing, a catastrophic insurance plan on the backs of the tax payer(  Price Anderson 560 million cap on liability )that no other energy gets?

      And much more  hidden subsidies through DOD and DOE?

      Peddle your badmouthing energy options somewhere where the thirty second sound bite is enough, somewhere where low info and scared voters rule.

      By the  dollar absolute standards of subsidies,  alternate  E gets 1/100  to 1/1000 if that of nuke and fossil.

      •  No, not really. They are actually very small (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AZ Independent

        now and, if you look at any operating power plant, they received very little directly. Historically they did.

        If you look at the measurements in terms of subsidies per unit of energy produced, wind and solar are far more subsidized than nuclear ever was. Its a discussion for an alternative energy thread, not this one.

        Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

        by davidwalters on Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 07:48:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Did you read my comment? Do you understand (0+ / 0-)

          that there are hidden and indirect subsidies that are an order of magnitude higher than the comparatively small ones (1.2 billion for alternatives, 4 billion for oil, several billions, not spelled out, for nuclear)?

          Do you understand that the word "subsidy"  is a description of an artificially limited  construct referring to say, a specific bill passed by Congress  to link grants and tax credits to oil companies? For instance years ago there was the infamous 27 1/2 % "depletion allowance" that went on to infinity or whenever the oil pumper stopped pumping.

          There are direct subsidies, indirect subsidies, and hidden subsidies.

          If you can ignore a trillion and a half dollars from 2001-1011, and hundreds of billions before that all in indirect and hidden subsidies to prop up and rig the markets, we have nothing more to talk about.  They all count, not just the obvious direct ones at the top of the pot of cash the fossil fuel companies help themselves to from American taxpayers.

          "They are actually very small now."  Let's stop playing pretend the subsidies are the same for all , the ones called such by Congress.   Direct subsidies are a very small subset of the actual full  spectrum of subsidies granted by this government to the fossil fuel companies.

          You raised the subsidy issue when you dismissed wind and solar, it is now germane to this thread.

    •  We need that HVDC supergrid anyway (0+ / 0-)

      Vast amounts is currently 500 gigs.

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 08:53:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Power Grid (3+ / 0-)

    We will keep going down this road until something tragic happens. Obama wanted to put people to work fixing the power grid but go nowhere when dems were in control of congress. Maddow even highlighted it some time way back. But here we are, and again, nothing will happen.

  •  How appropriate this happened during (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh, AZ Independent

    Obama's speech....kind of drives home the point, doesn't it?

    Great diary!

  •  A proposed line by BPA in Southwest Washington (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, AZ Independent

    State has quite a few of the locals riled up.  The main argument is the proposed route being near people that "won't benefit" from it's installation.  This article makes the short-sightedness of that view more apparent.  Sounds like letters to the editor are in order...

  •  Wait....what?! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tle, AZ Independent

    An informative and useful diary that isn't about the latest stupidity from our current political leadership, or about meta, or about meta-meta (meta2).....but about a specific problem, with specific and immediately identifiable consequences and specific solutions.

    <xynz checks contents of his drink>

    What's in this stuff? Whatever it is, it's goooood stufffff.

    Very well done diary. Thanks heaps for this.

    While I don't hold Obama in high esteem, that doesn't mean I would say he's the Devil Incarnate and the lessor of evils. He is merely the lessee of evils.

    by xynz on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 07:30:07 PM PDT

  •  The system is already being sabotaged (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, AZ Independent

    by the Amerian greed-profit mentality and the "free-market" system.
    Until the bureacracies of government and business are freed from the domination on this policy I'm afraid America's future will be darker -- and not just from lack of dependable electricity.

    The people demand the fall of this regime ...

    by fourthcornerman on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 07:41:09 PM PDT

  •  Bonneville cuts windpower while CA/AZ go dark. (2+ / 0-)

    Recently Bonneville Power CUT the output of the wind generators because they were generating TOO MUCH power along with the heavy snow melt.

    One of the ways to utilize the windpower vs. dumping it while stats go dark was to run the wind generators at full capacity all the time and store the energy in local grid batter backups.

    This has several benefits, providing emergency power and in utilizing the batteries to smooth out the power variations that cause the the blackouts.

    But just another infrastructure upgrade that was rejected by Federal government (so much for Obama's "get off of oil" pretense) and big power companies  Even though it would qualify for funding under Homeland Security along with cutting US greenhouse gases and less oil use for emergency generators and peak shaving installations, not something the White House or Congress is interested in doing.

  •  Is Ugly a misplaced environmental worry? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AZ Independent
    How could the loss of a single transmission line cause so many cascading failures? Well, apart from environmental concerns regarding the addition of new 500kV lines (a second SDG&E backed line from Arizona was rejected, and is in limbo), the US electrical grid has suffered from a chronic and dangerous lack of investment.
    The only environmental "damage" that power line would do is it wouldn't be pretty.  Hazards to wildlife would be trivial if they exist at all.  The power line itself wouldn't cause global warming; in fact, it could be a way to send clean solar electricity from where it's easy to collect to where it's needed.

    Ugly seems a good enough reason to limit billboards along highways, but I don't think it's any reason to block power lines.  

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 09:22:26 PM PDT

  •  Sam Insull (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AZ Independent

    Designed our current system of centralized power generation and distribution.  That was back at the turn of the last century.

    This architecture is brittle, as shown by the outage discussed by the diarist.  It also inhibits the introduction of new energy sources.

    In many ways this is analogous to the move from Mainframe systems to web based computing.  The move to distributed systems has made computing infrastructure more powerful, more adaptive, more resilient to faults.  

    Imagine if we had a power distribution network built to take advantage of many small generating sources.  Many large buildings and businesses have back up generators, often running on diesel.  Imagine now that these instead were powered by hydrogen fuel cells and ran all the time, sending power to the network when not needed, and using the power they generate when there was a (n increasingly rare) power disruption.  Fuel cells are economical at this scale today.  This would build a hydrogen distribution network that could eventually be leveraged to fuel cars as costs fell, driven by economies of scale.

    But it's not just hydrogen.  Wind.  Tide.  Geo thermal.  Solar.  None of these can on their own replace the large central power generation of fossil fuel.  But together, in a distributed system, they could dramatically reduce our reliance on fossil fuel.  With time, technological advances and economies of scale, they could eventually replace fossil fuels.

    The changes we will need to contemplate to move away from fossil fuels extend beyond the generating plants and to Sam Insull's whole notion of centralized power generation and distribution.  We must re-architect the system, not just the fuel.

    We kidnap. We torture. It's our policy. Embrace it or end it!

    by Mosquito Pilot on Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 06:20:11 AM PDT

  •  No, what we need to do is eliminate "grids" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fresno

    and develop micro-systems that serve single structures or small groups...i.e., solar, wind and other technologies.  Those lack the vulnerabilities inherent in all grids.  Hardening a grid only lowers the risks; it doesn't elminate them.

    •  This is not Lord of the Rings. We are not (0+ / 0-)

      going back to some sort of dystopian pre-industrial green fuedalism. Am I exaggerating a bit? Maybe. We live in an advanced industrial society. No one will do anything that makes what appears to some sort of forced march backward in time.

      Both wind and solar are highly depended on very centralized power systems. Look at who owns ALL wind farms in the US: FPL, PG&E and so on. It is anything but local it is REMOTE and requrires longer distances than even nuclear, gas, coal. Maybe hydro is more remote. CSP is the same and, none of this address, seriously, the climate issues of the planet, and development of 3rd wold countries that need MORE generation and usage per capita than they have now....almost 3 billion people without power!!!!

      Folks ,you have to get serious about how we can produce MORE energy, efficiently, safely, etc and so developing countries can industrialize to a higher degree and get their people out of poverty!

      Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

      by davidwalters on Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 07:56:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  nice thoughtful post (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AZ Independent

    CEO's aren't just taking profits from workers. they are taken money from R&D also.

    Be involved! http://www.whereistheoutrage.net

    by ecthompson on Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 10:15:28 AM PDT

  •  So why wasn't a smart grid included (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AZ Independent

    in the presidents speech then other night? A smart grid would be a multipliernofmjobs and growth. And it would allow clean energies like wind and solar to send their electricity where and when it is needed. It would reduce consumption saving consumers money.
    I think even the GOP would get behind this.

    •  its logical. of course the won't! (0+ / 0-)

      We all know the state of today's GOP.

      No chance in hell we could get a smart grid out of them unless we show them what terrors may be unleashed!

      /only half kidding.

      "Look at this; I'm a coward too; You don't need to hide, my friend; For I'm just like you" - Monster/Sprite (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites - Skrillex)

      by AZ Independent on Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 09:51:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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