A 'Third World energy grid' threatens the US
The nation's power infrastructure is an aging, dangerous mess, and conflicting interests remain an obstacle to needed improvements.
Remember what it was like last summer? Record heat and drought, plus flooding and violent storms. All those disasters were capped toward the end of the official Atlantic hurricane season by Superstorm Sandy -- which, along with 117 lives lost and billions of dollars in destruction, knocked out power to 8.1 million people across 17 states.
Well, get ready for more of the same when it comes to your electricity. In a new report, the Department of Energy warns of widespread power outages as a result of extreme weather, creating new stresses on an already stressed, antiquated and vulnerable electric power grid.
"The weather patterns seem to be changing," Michael Jennings, a spokesman for PSEG Power, part of New Jersey's largest electric and gas utility, told NJ.com. "We've got to adapt to it, and we've got to harden the grid."
But that's easier said than done. Over the weekend, The New York Times noted the U.S. is still shooting itself in the foot when it comes to the state of its national power grid, because competing and conflicting government and commercial interests prevent the effective, economical transmission of power to where it's needed.
"Expanding and modernizing our electric grid can provide improved access to remote sources of solar and wind energy, reduce power outages, and save consumers money," the White House recently announced as part of the Obama administration's plan to further develop and secure the nation's energy sources.
And The Times notes that several hundred engineers are completing a three-year effort on a hypothetical redesign of the so-called Eastern Interconnection. That's the energy grid used by a huge portion of the nation's population, stretching south from Canada and down to the Gulf Coast.
But while the plans, technology and even the funding may be available to improve the electrical grid and make it more cost-efficient, reliable and environmentally friendly, a lot of the major players aren't playing. As Douglas Gotham, an industry analyst at Purdue University, told The Times, "There are participants who have a vested interest in the high price of electricity, not the low price of electricity."
James Hoecker, a former member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, says another big challenge comes from what he calls "resource nationalism," whereby states disdain getting power from their neighbors, even if it's more economical, in favor of using local resources.
"We're a superpower with a Third World energy grid," former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who was also energy secretary during the Clinton administration, said after the 2003 power outage that left 50 million people in the U.S. Northeast and Canada without electricity.
Maybe it will take another Sandy, or worse, to remind us that the nation has alternatives to plunging large swaths of the country into darkness yearly.
"We're a superpower with a Third World energy grid [. . ..]"
Don't make it worse than it already is. Lose the "We're Number One!" pre-game workup and try to deal with our Third World reality. You're suggesting that we've still got the time and the capabilities to be proactive in dealing with our corroded infrastructure or global warming's pending natural disasters.
Sorry, we're bankrupt (although not yet in bankruptcy proceedings.) It's all scramble and patchwork from now to the end, and being honest about where we're at would be a good beginning.
Why don't our leaders lead and put those unemployed people to work building new power plants and transmission lines and fixing other things that are wrong?
Gee Marx was right during a depression you will see unemployed people starving on the streets while factories and house stand empty.
Pretty much western capitalism is a one of the most horrible means of getting things done.
where's all that stimulus money? it went to big unions, soylandra and other green companies owned
by friends and family of Obama and democrats! and they want more??? where does the sales tax on
our gas go? it's suppose to fix roads but it's never used for that and they want more! Obama's Nazi
EPA is shutting down business with over regulations causing food gas energy prices to keep rising!
Obama and progressives are holding back the economy to push their failed agenda! how about
getting back billions from Soylandra and other failed green companies? none of you libs can name
one thing Obama has done THAT HAS WORKED! TYPICAL SOCIALISM! FAILURE!
Here's an idea, how come we don't take the money from Two unfounded Wars and rebuild our Infrastructure....Instead of Iraq's and Afghan's..
The cost plus the bags of monies we send to these bastards ought to do it..
How many jet planes does it take to build a bridge, or maybe a ship or two.??
And our Construction guys won't get killed by Roadside IUDs either...
A lot of win-win-win scenarios.
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