Yves here. Green energy advocates have sometimes acknowledged that the US electrical grid needs to be upgraded. I have not seen that discussion normally including an admission that the grid also needs to be expanded to meet the demand of electric vehicles and other replacements for fossil-fuel-using devices.
What frustrates me about green energy discussions is the lack of system-wide discussions. This fact of the existence of this piece demonstrates that too many elements are being considered in isolation.
By Haley Zaremba, a writer and journalist based in Mexico City. Originally published at OilPrice
- While the U.S. clean energy sector is booming, the country’s energy grid will need to expand if it is to get the new energy supply to demand centers around the country.
- According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the country will need 47,300 gigawatt-miles of new power lines by 2035, amounting to a 57% expansion of the existing grid.
- As well as expanding the grid the existing grid needs to be improved, two tasks that will require a revamp of the current system of reviewing and approving energy grid projects.
In order to keep up with the expansion of renewable energy production capacity, the United States will have to more than double the current size of the electric grid. Stimulus from both the public and private sectors are hitting their intended mark, and the clean energy sector is booming. However, much of the potential environmental benefits of electrification will be completely wasted if we don’t have the power lines and grid capacity to transmit that power from where it’s being produced to where the demand is concentrated.
Meeting global climate goals requires a rapid and massive expansion of renewable energy production capacity. The urgency of this imperative is difficult to overstate; indeed, the United Nations has announced a code red for humanity. Building sufficient wind and solar farms to power the clean energy transition will require overcoming three major hurdles: finding enough land at an affordable price, building up the power grid to support the influx of electricity, and fixing the archaic and inefficient permitting process that governs these processes.
Mass-scale solar and wind farms require a whole lot of land, which means that these projects are increasingly pushing into rural areas where they often are not wanted. “Utility-scale solar and wind farms require at least ten times as much space per unit of power as coal- or natural gas–fired power plants, including the land used to produce and transport the fossil fuels,” McKinsey recently reported. “Wind turbines are often placed half a mile apart, while large solar farms span thousands of acres.” This poses a number of interconnected challenges to the spread of clean energy: competition over land, litigation and protests from the localities where these projects are planned, and once the project is finally complete, transmitting that energy all the way from the rural areas with space for solar and wind farms to the urban centers where it is needed.
To meet these needs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the country will need 47,300 gigawatt-miles of new power lines by 2035. That represents a 57% expansion of the existing grid. Meeting that goal will require a two-fold increase in the current rate of construction. The issue is not building materials or even labor – although that’s another challenge in and of itself. The real issue is the aforementioned glacial pace of the bureaucratic processes which underlie permitting and oversight of clean energy projects as well as grid expansion.
Building power lines alone is an enormous bureaucratic hurdle that can take years to gain approval. The average review of renewable energy projects takes about 3.5 years, but there are cases in which a single transition line took over a decade to be completed – in one particularly egregious example, the TransWest Express project took 18 years to get approved, and is expected to take another five years to be completed.
The grid doesn’t just need to be expanded, it also needs to be improved. The United States power grid is an aging and fractured system that will require major updates to bring it into the modern era and to prepare it for a massive influx of variable energy that it wasn’t designed to handle. A recent opinion piece in the New York Times argues that the best way to solve these overlapping problems is to remove all of the overlapping systems and institutions that are currently tasked with reviewing and approving these projects and giving this responsibility to a single entity at the Federal level. In doing so, the process can be streamlined and the grid itself can be more interconnected than before, providing important safety fallbacks if – or when – a part of the grid fails.
Fixing the presently nightmarish permitting and approval system will be integral to decarbonizing the United States economy, maintaining energy security across the country, and making sure that the efforts already underway to decarbonize the nation’s energy mix are not squandered. It’s great that wind and solar capacity are being added at a record-breaking rate, but it’s all a waste if, once completed, there’s no permit allowing them to plug into the grid – or if there’s no grid at all.
It is indeed frustrating to see how difficult is to find integrative approaches in the complex issue of electric grids and power energy generation/distribution. Besides, in a country the size of the US the problem is one order of magnitude more complex that in, for instance, my own country. Would it be more critical in the US a better central planning, or a state level approach? Different issues will be found in states with different supply demand structures. It might be possible that certain areas are better served by local independent mini-grids (and less electricity conduction instead of more) while others might necessitate more extended grids. Also, there are a growing number of players wanting to enter and if everything is left to the free competition criteria chaos might be guaranteed. Beware when you are calling for easing permitting processes without sensible criteria.
Grid management is to me an occult science. Hope some other commenters with better knowledge might chime in.
Quite a few Irish electric engineers I’ve known have gone to the US to get some experience and they invariably describe the US grid and its industry as being in the dark ages. It is grappling with issues that have been addressed in other countries for decades without too much fuss. The notion that energy storage is somehow a big deal is just laughable to any grid engineer from a small island nation. Maybe the US should go hire some Puerto Rican engineers, they’d show them how its done.
In many ways, the US is suffering from being an early adaptor of electricity and having the benefits of very cheap resources, not to mention never having had to suffer a landwar. The result is a huge amount of out of date legacy infrastructure and equally outdated thinking. It is of course a huge competitive advantage for any country to be able to free ride on historic investments, but that can only go on for so long.
I think that somehow assessing that the US can’t go for renewables because of the cost of infrastructure upgrades isn’t really the correct way of looking at the problem. The US needs massive investment just to stand still – the source of the electricity is irrelevant. But it is important to identify the key energy sources of the future as this determines the shape of the grid. Renewable based grids need a denser network of circuits and more long distance DC lines, while conventional grids tend to need a relatively small number of very high capacity short distance lines (i.e. from your cluster of nuclear plants to the nearest city). But either option is expensive and has its regulatory issues.
Boundary issues are always a problem with electricity grids as invariably the optimum grid is bigger than any one catchment. Even Germany has suffered from this as its grid is managed on a more regional basis. One of the big recent successes in Europe has been the increase in long distance interconnections. But it is much easier and simpler to build an underwater connector (one is now being built between Ireland and France) than an overland one.
Its also easy to overlook just how much progress has been made in costs and plant over the past decade or so. Irish thermal plants are now being converted to spinning capacity (essentially, using giant flywheels) to back up wind power. Energy storage costs are dropping very rapidly. But probably the biggest improvements are in grid management – investments in this in Ireland have close to doubled the carrying capacity of the grid for renewables (from around 30-40% to around 80% now).
Ironically, the US may be the biggest gainer in investments made in Europe and China, as the longer they put off making a decision, the cheaper the technology will be. Just on a micro level, in my apartment building we’ve been putting off the big decision of putting in electric car charging points in our basement carpark. In the few years we’ve waited, the costs have dropped from a 6 figure sum to a high 4 figure sum due to electronic metering (i.e. a single circuit is needed now rather than 80 separate ones), but we can still allow each unit to charge to the domestic metre).
>> it is much easier and simpler to build an underwater connector
My brain is now wondering whether the USA’s vast network of rivers could also become our energy superhighway, just like the interstate system is the obvious starting point for new passenger rail/coach service.
We could build a network of “fairly fast-y” strictly passenger rail lines along the media of every single Federal Interstate Highway. We could call it Federail.
Yes that’s why EirGrid had to spend 200mEuro on new gas plant to keep the system viable.
Thermal plant have always provided spinning reserve, as unreliables can’t they will still be required to do so.
You need to talk to EirGrid about ‘carrying capacity’ of grid of 80% renewables, they will be delighted to know the magic ingredient.
The notion that energy storage is somehow a big deal is just laughable to any grid engineer from a small island nation. Maybe the US should go hire some Puerto Rican engineers, they’d show them how its done.
I beg to differ. I know a guy who helped build Puerto Rico’s BESS station that was commissioned back in 1994. It holds 14 MWh of energy. They built another 20 MWh station back in 2020, which might be later expanded to 40 MWh. Unfortunately, the most realistic analysis I’ve seen for energy-storage needs on an all-renewable grid in Puerto Rico (at http://euanmearns.com/can-puerto-rico-go-100-solar/) estimates the final requirement at 76 GWh, which exceeds their existing capacity by a factor of 76000/(14+40) = 1400.
And Puerto Rico is an exceptionally friendly scenario, with mild length-of-day and temperature swings between summer and winter months. Most places see bigger swings and have longer stretches of unfavorable weather. Like Ireland, where solar produces the most power when it’s needed the least (http://euanmearns.com/uk-solar-pv-vital-statistics/). And where they’re already throwing away wind power that could be used to displace fossil fuels because of inadequate grid and storage capacity. [Per https://arxiv.org/pdf/2302.07143.pdf. 12.1% curtailment in 2020? Ouch!] These numbers will only get worse as more renewables are deployed.
And “Irish thermal plants being converted to spinning capacity (essentially, using giant flywheels) to back up wind power“? That’s not how those work. Generators at a de-commissioned thermal plants can serve as synchronous condensers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronous_condenser). This permits them to be used for power factor (or VAR) compensation. Adding a flywheel permits increases their capacity to perform power system stabilization, where unwanted grid oscillations between 0.1 and 3 Hz are cancelled out. Even with flywheels, they only store enough energy to provide rated power for a few seconds, and they cannot be considered backup systems to renewable energy.
Yes, and the ignorance with regard to the electrical grid of those promoting the pseudo renewables is extraordinary. I live within 20 miles of a nuclear plant producing 1200 MW around the clock and a new 60% efficient combined gas turbine plant producing almost 1000MW. Each consumes less than 30 acres. In the town next to us is a solar farm on 34 acres with 25000 solar panels producing a grand total of 5.5 MW when the sun is out and its azimuth and elevation are within bounds. Wind and solar will consume at least a thousand times more land than thermal plants. Also most of them will not be near load canters like existing plants. This means many more miles of transmission lines with line losses, big cost and oh the permitting.
“Grid management is to me an occult science” – Ignacio
1) Meredith Angwin’s book “Shorting the Grid” is a good and timely read.
2) Grid management is hard. But the older generation of utility skates built so much margin for error into the systems, they made it look easy. (If the lights went out that was front page news – very unusual.) So now we have an electorate that thinks grid management is easy, and politicians who are remarkably casual about shutting down baseload generation while forcing intermittent renewables into the system.
3) In the discussion about risks there is a serious lack of historical perspective. If tomorrow the sun were to burp out a major and well-aimed EMP (as it did as recently as 1859 – see “Carrington Event”) the lights would go out and stay out across a very wide area – the inventory to replace all the fried transmission equipment does not exist. We’d be somewhere close to Mad Max conditions by Memorial Day. Instead of hardening the grid against these possibilities, we spend trillions on projects of doubtful efficacy aimed at heading off a few degrees of warming many decades in the future. The relevant read here is MacKay’s “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”.
If one goes the way of wind and solar farms, then one must vastly expand the grid, change its characteristics and make it truly interconnected to redirect production to consumption areas so that things are kept balanced.
If one goes the way of decentralized production (i.e. solar panels on every building and local wind turbines), then it becomes necessary to build and install an enormous park of batteries distributed everywhere to balance very localized production and consumption across hours/days.
It seems to me that a general conversion to “green energy” will not take place that soon, since a feasible and timely solution is yet to be elaborated (and what about reducing energy consumption?)
One alternative to the “banks of batteries everywhere” would be to use thermal storage, at least insofar as the electricity is used for space heating and domestic hot water heating. It’s much more cost-effective than actual batteries. For a 1500 square foot home where 90% of the yearly heating needs would be about 14 MWh a heat bank might cost $11,000 and depending on what it’s made of it might last 50 years. On the other hand the cheapest (in the long run) electric batters I was able to find (Iron Edison) cost about $0.10 per kWh over their life. Over 50 years you’d need 14*10^6 Wh / year * $0.10 / 10^3 Wh * 50 years = $70,000. To be clear that’s just for storage: Solar panels are extra.
This is just back-of-the-napkin and YMMV with heat banks (some don’t last 50 years, some require maintenance that will cost something extra–though the Iron Edison batteries require some care too). But if we’re concerned with energy storage it does strike me as a practical solution, and it’s a solution that was used for several decades until–I think–grid tie plus net metering mostly killed it.
The problem is that the “one Wh for one Wh” net metering thing only works if there’s so little solar power that excess is never produced and existing generating capacity isn’t put on ice during a decent portion of the day [https://theconversation.com/why-rooftop-solar-is-disruptive-to-utilities-and-the-grid-39032]. As we try to increase the percent of the grid supplied by renewables our need for storage obviously grows. There are, of course, some creative options for gid-scale storage and I don’t know what the costs and payouts of those would be so I can’t really compare them with building-level thermal storage–though I suspect that in cities a simple sand-based heat bank like this one would be quite practical [https://interestingengineering.com/innovation/worlds-first-sand-battery], though whether the idea of storing “months” worth of heat is really worth pursuing I don’t know. But for most of the continental USA I think just storing a few days worth of heat would certainly be quite economical.
But at the very least building-level thermal storage is a much more inexpensive option for homes and apartments than chemical batteries. And in most cases I believe there’s a sweet spot–it may not always be 90% of the heating needs but I think it’s not often lower than 30%–where solar panels plus thermal storage is cheaper in just dollar terms than electricity or even natural gas.
Nah, its far easier and cheaper to legislate cars away, impose 15 minute cities and towns, vaccinate life expectancy down to say 50yrs, no airports for the plebs , insects on every menu etc etc.
The people behind this know its impossible to get to net zero without draconian measures, its those measures they are really after, not mythical climate change.
Conspiracy theory? No just reading the stuff put out by the UN etc.
That’s the idea behind the green hysteria. My gosh, how many forests are we going to destroy to put wind farms up? Do you know they kill a lot of migratory birds? And are you aware the mines in Africa use child labor for all those minerals the greens so holier-than-thou require? It’s just hypocrisy all around.
I think that the author severely understates the problem with the US power grid. Some time ago there was a lot of discussion about California’s power grid and PG&E. Now California is one of the richest States in the Union but as was noted in our discussions, some of the electrical gear they were using dated back to the Coolidge administration – or earlier. PG&E has no interest in replacing any of that outdated gear and if pushed, will just declare yet another bankruptcy – with no fundamental changes made. My point is that if California is an average State, whole regions will have to have their electrical grids totally replaced and not just upgraded. And any efforts to upgrade those systems will be thwarted by local interests and you can easily see this happening in California and most of the funds allocated will be squandered or, ahem, diverted.
Rev, you’re being quite charitable today. ;) If memory serves, the condition of California’s electrical grid was allowed to deteriorate because PG&E execs were too busy enriching themselves. The company has been slapped with a number of lawsuits — two for the Dixie Fire alone — over deaths, injuries, billions in property damage, and has been fingered in a series of wildfires due to negligence (i.e., over maintaining the grid, in particular to prevent trees from being ignited by arcing from high tension lines). The company was eventually pushed into bankruptcy over its liability for all the damage. In any case, your larger point stands, and I mention the details only to note that if anything the situation is even more dire.
I am a fourth generation Californian. My grandfather called PG&E “Pacific Graft and Extortion” 50 years ago.
The corruption is so deep-seated between the State govt., the PUC and PG&E I don’t see how this is going to work either. The antiquated equipment has caused many fires that have destroyed thousands of homes, and killed many people. No criminal charges, and the public has to pay for the billions in civil litigation against PGE. We have to pay for their PR damage control, advertising campaigns, and money to bribe the politicians. It is beyond outrageous. This is another example of massive institutionalized corruption.
Instead of modernizing the infrastructure, they have been asset stripping it for decades, paying their senior management obscene amounts (53 million a year for CEO) etc.
I could go on, but the Dystopia will continue until we clean up the corruption. The govt. mandates for electric vehicles etc. will turn into a fiasco, but we will have to pay the extortion many times over.
The state politricksters clearly don’t give a toss about the environment or climate – this is another racket.
This is never going to happen, see Rev’s observation re PG&E. When do we discuss reducing usage?
I think that you hit the nail on the head here. It’s the only realistic way. But whenever you start to hear about more efficiencies, Silicon Valley comes out with some new technology that requires power-slurping server farms for it like cryptocurrency, AI, the Metaverse, ChatGPT or whatever. It’s insane.
I fully agree
Where do you think the political will for reducing usage will come from?
No political will necessary. Smart meters and surge pricing will take care of it.
The analog is road capacity: in the Bay Area new capacity is added but if you want to use it you pay. For example Highway 101 (a primary N-S road between SF and San Jose) in Silicon Valley added new “Express Lanes” which feature “dynamic pricing”. Per the website FAQ, The system monitors the freeway and raises or lowers the toll to keep traffic flowing smoothly in the express lanes. From limited observation, it appears that the fee is about $1/mile to use the “express” lane. That 15 mile commute will now cost $30/day in the express lane.
Of course this is a “public/private” partnership with the “public” paying 90% of the cost of building the lanes. So the public pays to build the road, and then pays to use it.
Look for something similar to come to the electric market. PG&E texts that due to “surge” usage (which happens every evening at the same time) that the per kilowatt charge is increased by 200%. If you want to pay, click yes.
Who was it who said no matter how cynical I am, I can’t keep up?
G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “My life has passed in making poor jokes that have turned into prophecy.”
This article is from Oilprice, talking their book. Green energy should be utilized where it is generated, in small local systems, as a stopgap measure on our way to a fossil fuel free future. The huge transmission lines are as obsolete as the coal and nuclear power plants.
If only that were true. Please read vao’s comment above. He describes the trade-offs between small and large grids quite nicely, and I’ve personally witnessed the merit of his arguments.
Back in November, my little stretch of Appalachia experience an extended period of gray, dreary, drizzly weather. We literally didn’t see the sun for nine (9) days straight, and wind speeds never exceeded 3 MPH. Solar panels ran at about 10% of nameplate capacity, and all wind turbines were completely idle. If we’d been on a small local system with only green energy, we would have needed batteries capable of supplying 90+% of demand for 9 days straight. This would be something like 15 of Tesla’s PowerWall units per house, and people can’t afford that.
When energy supply can vary so radically, it’s better to have transmission lines that send power from regions that have surpluses to regions experiencing shortfalls. Less energy storage capacity is required as a result. But the downside? More huge transmission lines, with all of the permitting, disruption, and drama they entail.
There aren’t any solutions. Only trade-offs.
I was doing off grid solar in New Mexico, where the sun shines, I wouldn’t try it here in Ohio. I could keep the house system up with 8 Exide GC4s, which would last about 4 years before needing replacement. There would be times of rationing, and always tradeoffs. At the time I sold it the batteries were more expensive and heavier, the controller was able to charge and preserve them better, but it was doable. Different environments will require different solutions. In 100 years, it’ll all be candles, human and draft animal effort. We should be preparing for the real, inescapable future of life without fossil fuels.
Solar is a great idea in California where there is a lot of sun. But they got rid of the subsidies that would make it economic for home solar on the grounds that poor people were subsidizing wealthier people through their utility bills because poor people dont own houses and cannot afford solar. So now you can forget local solar in California because those with houses now cannot justify solar financially……so no one will put solar on their residential roof……neither the minorities nor the shrinking middle class. It just does not pencil out.
I would tread lightly here. There are just as many powerful interests that want to build more power lines–specifically, the utilities–and because of their experience with regulation, they are very skilled at generating memes, astroturf press, and so on. Also recall that in America, utility rates are set based on investment amortization + return on investment + allowance for expenses; plus, costs that seem like expenses are actually capitalized as investment if used to build tangible property, like a power line. Hence, utilities have giant incentives to convince you the future requires replacing all the power lines.
While there will no doubt need to be additional transmission lines built, most of the claims being made in the article with respect to complete replacement, modernization, etc. have never been substantiated. To actually replace substantial amounts of older equipment (much of which actually works fine) would create an enormous increase in electricity utility costs. Even if you tried to cut down on the profit rate of the utilities, the amortization of the new equipment alone would be enormous.
Part of the problem here is inadequate cost-benefit of specific renewable projects (not the concepts or technologies). Renewable developers, utility or not, have an incentive to put the renewable plant at the site most suited for renewable productivity. But the best site is actually the one that balances renewable productivity with shortest distance to existing transmission, etc.–maybe less productive, but closer to a metro. And generally, most of the developers will get multiple projects spooling up so that they can bid into utility RFPs or get enough to share the costs of extra transmission. So, you have what looks like a huge backlog of projects, many of which are actually not economic yet (rather like an oil company with many acreages but no wells yet). The current system is incentivizing and controlling for these issues since all costs are passed on to customers. What the utilities and developers are doing is trying to hoodwink the left into approving transmission and renewables in way where they don’t have to answer to cost-benefit analysis. When it comes to renewables and so on, DOE is generally good, but it is definitely captured by the developer/transmission complex.
It is also important to note that the grid does not especially need lots of upgrades to handle EVs. They charge just fine. The problems we tend to have with the electric grid involve thinks like peak generation capacity. So that’s why EV programs mostly incentivize people to charge their EVs at night. I have never seen any claim about EV replacement issues substantiated. (This was before I went collecting taxes in Andalusia, back when I struggled with the utility companies, I mean Saracens, at Lepanto and was imprisoned in Algiers.)
I have also never seen any claims substantiated about two-way power flows. Note that the electrical grid is already designed for two-way power flows: electricity flows on a circuit in a residential neighborhood and continues flowing past the circuit. It is an A/C grid. Adding electricity back to the circuit is not a game-changer. This is what engineers told me when I was “stationed” at “Naples.”
So don’t get fooled.
“It is also important to note that the grid does not especially need lots of upgrades to handle EVs.”
That’s only true if you can get people to consistently charge their EVs when grid demand is lowest. For a lot of places that’s the middle of the night, but during the winter most northern states see peak demand around 7AM, when heat pumps are running really hard and people are taking showers and cooking breakfast. And this nighttime trend will get worse as oil- and gas-fired furnaces are gradually replaced with heat pumps.
And the furnace replacement thing is key. Currently about 45% of homes are built with heat pumps, per https://www.statista.com/statistics/215046/heating-fuel-used-in-new-single-family-houses-completed-in-the-us/. If we push for 100% utilization of heat pumps, this means that electrical demand will rise markedly during winter nights. And there’s no good way to shift the timing like we can with EV charging. People need the heat when it’s cold outside. Not just when grid conditions are favorable. The net result is a bigger grid, much as the article describes.
I love your posts Grumpy but I have to ask. Electricity is the highest quality energy and heat is about the lowest. It is easy to store heat compared to storing electricity. A well insulated water tank could hold the heat for the night and early morning demand could it not? In other words during the day, for example, when it might even be warmer outside the heat pump could heat water that could be circulated from a tank hours or even days later. In our house we have floor heating with water and the water is stored in a tank hot. So if your concern is electricty demand at night for heating are there not solutions to shift the energy demand that do not involve hi tech hi expense batteries etc? Battery storage of electricity is incredibly expensive, heat storage is cheap.
Thank you. And yes, I actually took a hard look at thermal energy storage a few years ago and concluded it wasn’t a terrible idea. The most compact scheme would use ice to store cold for the summer and paraffin wax to store heat for the winter. I can’t remember the exact run-times, but I think most houses could be serviced with one tank of ice and two tanks of paraffin, with each tank being the size of a water heater. You’d need new heat pumps and fluid circulation devices to accompany the tanks, but it still would be significantly cheaper than a basement full of Tesla PowerWalls.
But there are some downsides. Many people wouldn’t have room in their apartments or houses for such a setup and simply couldn’t do it. It would also be a complex system with many more failure modes than a simple air-source heat pump (or AC unit paired with a gas furnace), and there’s little industry experience with such schemes.
And if there’s a fire, two tanks of paraffin can add a LOT of fuel to the fire. It’s not as scary as a fire involving a bunch of Tesla PowerWalls, but it would still be bad news. You’d likely lose the entire house, but at least you wouldn’t electrocute firefighters along the way.
Why paraffin wax ? Glauber’s salt or some of the modern phase change setups ?
Why paraffin? Because it’s readily available and cheap. But other phase change materials could certainly be used. I see that Glauber’s salt has a melting point of 32.4 degC (which is a good temperature for space heating applications), but I don’t know how much is available worldwide and how much it would cost when purchased by the ton. [Paraffin costs about $1100 per ton. Sodium sulfate decahydrate appears to cost about $16500 per ton, but I obtained that value by scaling up from a 25 kg purchase, which was the largest I could find.]
What are some of the other “modern phase change setups”? I’m not familiar with them.
The ” three major hurdles” mentioned in the article bring Kelo v New London to mind.
It’s not at all obvious that deploying locally produced green energy requires ‘hub and spoke’ distribution. More likely, local electricity production will be stored locally (with safe, non-lithium batteries) and used locally.
It doesn’t mean there’s no place for long-distance transmission but it does mean a system-wide approach is needed and there’s no place for the vested interest thinking on display in this article.
We don’t need a better grid, we just need generator equity.
Apologies if that New York Times article was mentioned already and I missed it. I was struck by the fact that two reporters spent several days traveling around the state to produce an article that raised questions the reporters didn’t seem to notice and didn’t have much of a point — unless they really think that we need a generator equity movement.
They mentioned two recent blackouts (one caused by vandalism) but implied they were much more common in the Charlotte area. How common are they? Is that because of climate, the area growing faster than the local grid can accommodate, or are the blackout symptomatic of a national problem. I was even curious about developers making offers for the poor woman’s house in a flood-prone area.
At least some are acknowledging it. Along with Hochul and associates forcing through a statewide ban on gas stoves in new construction, the NYC council has passed a law that requires electric heating and water heating for buildings of a certain size, and not just new construction. Forget the cost to retrofit older buildings that could truly kneecap smaller landlords, co-ops and condos, did this brain trust do any studies on the increased load on the city’s electrical grid. Because unless Con Edison used fraudulent data, there is no way it can handle it.
So then after hundreds of thousands per building spent to install these systems the electricity isn’t dependable. It isn’t just in the summer, neighborhoods lose electricity not just for hours but for days at a time. So no heat, no hot water and no gas stove to even heat the water for hot water bottles….this is a plan. Not to mention that electricity often makes gas and oil heating bills look cheap in this area. Something that will only increase as demand rises, see summer surcharges. Maybe Con Ed will give you a rebate if they admit you were without electricity for more than 24 hours, if you yell enough and don’t let up on them. Once again this isn’t a problem for the wealthy, they’ll just go somewhere else.
The biggest hurdles to rational CO2 minimization could be overcome with campaign finance reform especially in New York and California. Nothing gets done in these super Blue states without significant campaign contributions. Hochul and the rest of them are not stupid. Their goal is not global warming…..it is to get reelected.
Actually I am more cynical where Hochul and Adams are concerned, in their cases it is about securing their sinecures after the job. But in this case, I think the problem is an badly informed but well intentioned City Council. And trying to thread the needle between “rational CO2 minimization” and the hurdles of power generation and needs of millions not wealthy people involved takes more than magical thinking.
DFWcom is right. Everything about energy in the US is vested thinking. Currently, I’m 100% off the grid. To connect to the grid would have cost $35. I’m around $15K in costs so far. I’ve been doing alternate energy stuff since the mid 70’s. My last on the grid house had a total energy cost of around $2000 per year and was carbon minus. Other than cost the main reason for being off the grid is; the grid is physically falling apart. All the money for expansion will be used just to fix the current grid. Power outages getting more prevalent everywhere. So here’s something for you all to consider. The typical electric usage per house in the US is around 30KW per day. I’m currently using 2 to 5 KW. On lithium batteries I’m seeing that it takes 2 to 5 KW to store 1 KW of power. Same batteries in as in a Tesla. By the way, I’m a engineer and do lots of R&D. If anyone is interested I’ll post some articles on energy subjects. Starting with why and how the grid is falling apart. Also, I can give some real information on going off the grid.
I for one am very interested in knowing why and how the grid is falling apart.
I would be interested in what you are doing and how you are doing it to keep your house’s usage at 2 to 5 KW.
System-wide thinking has not been a thing for 60+ years.
Instead everything will be fixed by the short term profit motive of individuals and corporations, so say the priests of mammon.
I’m frustrated with the deafening silence about both geothermal and new tech hydro. Solar and wind are good but they require so many resources just to set up the catchment tech, not to mention possibly localizing and decentralizing the grid. discussion seems pretty thin. we’ve got the expertise so I assume it’s horse trading at this point.
All those inevitable electric battery cars only? um… maybe not.