America’s Power Grid at the Limit: The Road to Electrical Blackouts

Powerlines, CA Article CaptionBy Steve Goreham

Originally published in Communities Digital News.

Americans take electricity for granted. Electricity powers our lights, our computers, our offices, and our industries. But misguided environmental policies are eroding the reliability of our power system.

Last winter, bitterly cold weather placed massive stress on the US electrical system―and the system almost broke. On January 7 in the midst of the polar vortex, PJM Interconnection, the Regional Transmission Organization serving the heart of America from New Jersey to Illinois, experienced a new all-time peak winter load of almost 142,000 megawatts.

 

Eight of the top ten of PJM’s all-time winter peaks occurred in January 2014. Heroic efforts by grid operators saved large parts of the nation’s heartland from blackouts during record-cold temperature days. Nicholas Akins, CEO of American Electric Power, stated in Congressional testimony, “This country did not just dodge a bullet―we dodged a cannon ball.”

Environmental policies established by Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are moving us toward electrical grid failure. The capacity reserve margin for hot or cold weather events is shrinking in many regions. According to Philip Moeller, Commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, “…the experience of this past winter indicates that the power grid is now already at the limit.”

EPA policies, such as the Mercury and Air Toxics rule and the Section 316 Cooling Water Rule, are forcing the closure of many coal-fired plants, which provided 39 percent of US electricity last year. American Electric Power, a provider of about ten percent of the electricity to eastern states, will close almost one-quarter of the firm’s coal-fired generating plants in the next fourteen months. Eighty-nine percent of the power scheduled for closure was needed to meet electricity demand in January. Not all of this capacity has replacement plans.

In addition to shrinking reserve margin, electricity prices are becoming less stable. Natural gas-fired plants are replacing many of the closing coal-fired facilities. Gas powered 27 percent of US electricity in 2013, up from 18 percent a decade earlier. When natural gas is plentiful, its price is competitive with that of coal fuel.

But natural gas is not stored on plant sites like coal. When electrical and heating demand spiked in January, gas was in short supply. Gas prices soared by a factor of twenty, from $5 per million BTU to over $100 per million BTU. Consumers were subsequently shocked by utility bills several times higher than in previous winters.

On top of existing regulations, the EPA is pushing for carbon dioxide emissions standards for power plants, as part of the “fight” against human-caused climate change. If enacted, these new regulations will force coal-fired plants to either close or add expensive carbon capture and storage technology. This EPA crusade against global warming continues even though last winter was the coldest US winter since 1911-1912.

Nuclear generating facilities are also under attack. Many of the 100 nuclear power plants that provided 20 percent of US electricity for decades can no longer be operated profitably. Exelon’s six nuclear power plants in Illinois have operated at a loss for the last six years and are now candidates for closure.

What industry pays customers to take its product? The answer is the US wind industry. Wind-generated electricity is typically bid in electrical wholesale markets at negative prices. But how can wind systems operate at negative prices?

Negative Electricity Prices Article 300

The answer is that the vast majority of US wind systems receive a federal production tax credit (PTC) of up to 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for produced electricity. Some states add an addition credit, such as Iowa, which provides a corporate tax credit of 1.5 cents per kw-hr. So wind operators can supply electricity at a pre-tax price of a negative 3 or 4 cents per kw-hr and still make an after-tax profit from subsidies, courtesy of the taxpayer.

As wind-generated electricity has grown, the frequency of negative electricity pricing has grown. When demand is low, such as in the morning, wholesale electricity prices sometimes move negative. In the past, negative market prices have provided a signal to generating systems to reduce output.

But wind systems ignore the signal and continue to generate electricity to earn the PTC, distorting wholesale electricity markets. Negative pricing by wind operators and low natural gas prices have pushed nuclear plants into operating losses. Yet, Congress is currently considering whether to again extend the destructive PTC subsidy.

Capacity shortages are beginning to appear. A reserve margin deficit of two gigawatts is projected for the summer of 2016 for the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), serving the Northern Plains states. Reserve shortages are also projected for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) by as early as this summer.

The United States has the finest electricity system in the world, with prices one-half those of Europe. But this system is under attack from foolish energy policies. Coal-fired power plants are closing, unable to meet EPA environmental guidelines. Nuclear plants are aging and beset by mounting losses, driven by negative pricing from subsidized wind systems. Without a return to sensible energy policies, prepare for higher prices and electrical grid failures.

Steve Goreham is Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of the book The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism:  Mankind and Climate Change Mania.

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124 thoughts on “America’s Power Grid at the Limit: The Road to Electrical Blackouts

  1. With the planned closing of the coal fired power plants, if next winter is like this year it will be UGLY, VERY UGLY.

  2. If the current Global Warming cooling trend continue, which it can’t as the IPCC states, then we are really in deep dodo.

  3. ‘Reserve shortages are also projected for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) by as early as this summer.’

    Aw, what the heck, we can solve that problem by resorting to a scandal investigation of some of the ERCOT council members. It’s not like that hasn’t been tried before with the national reliability council here in the US.

  4. Robert Bissett
    April 23, 2014 at 4:37 pm
    says:
    ‘Dear Leader once said, “Under my plan, electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket.” So, no, he does not lie all the time unlike some would have it.’

    Um, hate to say it but the rates can’t skyrocket if there’s nothing there to pay for.

  5. 20 April: Irish Independent: Nick Webb/Roisin Burke: Windfarm owners were paid €10m not to produce energy
    Energy suppliers paid up to €10m last year to wind-farm operators to power down, freedom of information documents supplied to the Sunday Independent reveal…
    The cost of broken or shut-off wind turbines was up to €10m in 2013 and could be passed on to Irish consumers in their electricity bills, communications between EirGrid and the Department of Energy suggest. “The suppliers can, of course, pass this cost on to their consumers,” an EirGrid executive said in an email on the subject to a senior civil servant at the Department of Energy…
    However, that cost looks set to soar as the power-down rate of 3 per cent for 2013 is estimated to rise to 10 per cent in 2014, according to EirGrid, suggesting a cost to conventional energy companies of over €30m and a knock-on cost to consumer energy bills. An EirGrid graph on wind curtailments shows them rising 50 per cent further by 2016, which would cost utility companies €40m.
    Irish wind-farm operators receive payouts from other electricity providers in respect of “constraints” or “curtailments” where a transmission or distribution line is down for maintenance or where there is a local fault, or when there is high wind at a time of low-energy demand (for example, in the middle of the night) and turbines are shut down due to over-capacity. The same policy is applied internationally.
    European energy regulators decided last year that wind farms would receive compensation from the energy market for these shutdowns and it is part of government policy as a way to stimulate the wind energy market.

    http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/windfarm-owners-were-paid-10m-not-to-produce-energy-30200656.html

  6. 23 April: KRIS-TV Texas: Andrew Ellison: Bayfront Wind Turbines Will Likely Never Power a Thing
    CORPUS CHRISTI – Many of you at home are probably familiar with those four wind turbines right across from the American Bank Center.
    You’ll probably also remember a report we did back in November 2012, revealing that those turbines don’t power a single thing.
    Now, a year and a half later, the city still has no plan to actually use them, and it turns out, it may never use them.
    City Engineering says it hasn’t even looked into the cost of connecting them to the system, because the turbines wouldn’t produce enough power to make a difference anyway.
    The four of them cost taxpayers nearly half a million dollars to build, and it looks like all they’ll ever be is something to look at.
    The turbines were part of a bayfront improvement project approved by voters in the 2004 bond election…

    http://www.kristv.com/news/bayfront-wind-turbines-will-likely-never-power-a-thing/

  7. And special forces of an adversary could shoot up a dozen transformers and bring down the grid.

  8. 23 April: UK Telegraph: James Kirkup: No more onshore wind farms if Conservatives win 2015 election
    A new Conservative government would grant local residents powers to block all new onshore wind farms within six months of taking office, party pledges
    No subsidies will paid to operators of new onshore wind turbines if the Conservatives win a Commons majority next May, they will promise.
    The commitment to stop the erection of new onshore turbines – revealed in The Telegraph earlier this month – is the latest hardening of Conservative rhetoric on green energy.
    Subsidies for existing onshore wind would remain in place and wind farms currently under construction or given legal consent would still be completed, almost doubling the onshore wind sector’s capacity by 2020.
    But no more onshore turbines would be put in place beyond that, Michael Fallon, the energy minister, will say…
    (Energy Minister Michael Fallon) “We remain committed to cutting our carbon emissions. And renewable energy, including onshore wind, has a key role in our future energy supply. But we now have enough bill payer-funded onshore wind in the pipeline to meet our renewable energy commitments and there’s no requirement for any more…

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/10783823/No-more-onshore-wind-farms-if-Conservatives-win-2015-election.html

  9. So I guess this means that they are not going to move any appreciable amount of cars to electric. It would require a massive increase in the grid to do it.

  10. If the grid fails, I’m betting one political party will use the ensuing tragedy (failure of capitalism) to push for a government takeover of our power providers.

  11. So very happy not to have been in Ontario this winter. In January every province except BC was on rotating or non-rotating blackouts. Now that Ontario has closed all their coal plants, which they need only in the summer, it will be interesting to see if there are blackouts in the summer. If so, I should be able to protest being made to live in Ontario for 153 days. I can’t live there if there is no electricity. BTW, electricity is cheaper in the Bahamas than in Ontario.

  12. from UK Tele article posted earlier: “and wind farms currently under construction or given legal consent would still be completed, almost doubling the onshore wind sector’s capacity by 2020″

    here are the numbers:

    (paywalled) 23 April: UK Times: Ben Webster/Michael Savage: Plan for 3,000 turbines ‘won’t be blown off course’
    The number of onshore wind turbines will almost double over the next five years despite attempts by leading Conservatives to impose a moratorium on new projects, according to the energy secretary.
    Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat, said the Conservatives would not succeed in blocking his department’s plan to increase the total capacity from onshore wind farms from 7 gigawatts to 13GW by 2020.
    This would mean an additional 3,000 turbines, bringing the total in the countryside to 7,000…

    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article4070152.ece

  13. Cross patch–the people who drive electric cars do not understand that they operate on mostly fossil-fueled electric generation. They do not understand how the electric grid works or how it is fed by generation on demand. This is exactly why the electric grid is in crisis. They don’t understand, and they don’t care.

  14. 23 April: UK Daily Mail: Tamara Cohen/Ben Spencer/Matt Chorley: Energy bills will have to rise to pay for new offshore wind farms, Lib Dem minister Ed Davey admits
    Energy Secretary unveils deal for eight new renewables schemes
    Government to guarantee price paid for power, pushing up bills
    Mr Davey insists charges would be higher without going green
    A Tory MP criticised the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary yesterday after he announced new green energy projects that will lead to higher bills.
    Ed Davey said the five new offshore wind farms and three wood-burning plants would supply 2million homes, create 8,500 jobs and attract £12billion of private investment.
    But he was accused of exploiting the crisis in Ukraine, which he said highlighted the need to develop home-grown power, as a ‘cover’ for expensive projects…
    Investors get a guaranteed price for the electricity they produce – around double the wholesale cost – some of which is added on to consumer electricity bills…
    In an embarrassment for the Energy Secretary, the Drax power station in North Yorkshire, where one of the new projects is based, has announced plans to sue his department.
    Only one of the two plants that it anticipated would be converted from coal to wood-chip was announced, and the firm’s shares fell by 13 per cent.
    A spokesman said it would make a legal challenge.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2611215/Energy-bills-rise-pay-new-offshore-wind-farms-Lib-Dem-minister-Ed-Davey-admits.html

  15. RS wrote;

    “Buy a diesel whole house or business generator.
    It’s what they do in the third world.”

    Most whole house units (up to about 20 kW) are NG or LP powered. Diesel units are typically larger (20 kW and up).

    I just installed a 14 kW LP unit last summer. Not the third world here (upstate NY), Yet.

    We live in a rural area on a dead end street with only 20 houses. When a big wind or ice storm hits we are lowest priority for repair. These outages last 8-48 hours typically and occur every few years.

    The whole house unit is very nice, it has already done a stand in role for the utility for about 6 hours in just 9 months since the install. No worries about thawing food in refrigerators, sump pumps, reading with flashlights, etc. Highly recommended if you are in a rural area. A local outfit here will do a complete install for $9,000. Or you can get the parts for about $4,000-$5,000.

    Cheers, Kevin

  16. There are two factors at work here:

    1. Environmental policies established by Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are moving us toward electrical grid failure.

    2. Miscellaneous factors below the nose threshold.

  17. The solution is quite simple, actually. Every now-CONTROLLABLE electric meter is set to RATION each account to what the system can support. Jacking up the rates to put the poor in the dark while the rich go on using up 20MwH/month at $20/MwH will trigger civil war as they watch their kids freeze to death. So, rationing is the only way the public would stand for it. Every meter gets 200KwH/month with a peak load of 50Kw. Jack up the load and the meter trips out on the peak load. Use too much power on your 24 room mansion, you sit in the dark or run your generator.

    Of course, as soon as this were proposed, electric corporations faced with rationing’s crashing revenues would miraculously “find” their calculations were wrong and they were reading the meters at the plant wrong and there’d be a huge surplus to feed any amount you want to pay for, without a political disaster rate increase where the PAYERS remind the corps who actually PAID for that nuke plant they’ve been bleeding all the money from for the last 40 years…..the taxpayers.

    America could use a good dose of gasoline, gas, electric, and water rationing that might make them think twice about that new Ford F-250 with the 10-cylinder redneck penis extension purchase for something a little more “Earth Friendly”….smaller home, smaller car, smaller load, smaller guzzlers.

  18. @KevinK.

    Six hours of power for $9,000. Well, things will get worse. So, that rate will go down, I suppose.

  19. The sad reality is extensive blackouts will ultimately ensure reliable electricity supply and little or none of that will be green renewables.

  20. Perhaps this is what it will take to wake up the American public to the damage EPA does. Make them freeze for one winter, and I guarantee you even the lefties will support a bill to put our energy needs first and supposed eco-crises second.

  21. Robert Bissett says:
    April 23, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Dear Leader once said, “Under my plan, electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket.” So, no, he does not lie all the time unlike some would have it.
    _______________________
    Workers of the world unite.

  22. I am glad my local electricity comes from a natural gas power plant. If that is overloaded, a nearby nuclear plant can be tapped into to.

    I am also glad that my home is heated by natural gas and not by a heat pump. If the electricity goes out, I still keep warm.

    I also glad that despite the many anti-fracking ads on TV in my state that clearly show desperation, people are not buying the lies of environmentalists. Even a liberal local news station said those desperation anti-fracking ads were untrue, while continuing to take money to air them.

  23. Sadly – this will be a passing phase as summer kicks in and other events take center stage. The MSM don’t care and don’t want to know when anything about Obama politics are involved. They even go so far as to downplay issues and problems with the Obama administration. Moreover, there is no interest from the general public, consequently allowing the US energy policy to approach critical failure. Someone has to say it – the US, media, politicians and its own people are at fault here. Everyone was warned a long time ago. And warned once again by utility companies themselves. The greens have won and the price is total failure of the US grid.

  24. Eve says: “In January every province except BC was on rotating or non-rotating blackouts.”

    Don’t recall noticing any such blackouts in Manitoba. Think i would have heard about it in Saskatchewan and for sure there would have been a row if they’d occurred in Alberta. Seems unlikely that there were blackouts in Manitoba since that province is wallowing in hydroelectricity from the great socialist make-work projects on the Nelson River. They were supposed to make Manitoba rich from electricity exports but there is only a limited US market that can be accessed from there and those markets seem to be well supplied currently.

  25. Mr. Goreham is confusing two issues, gas and wind. He cannot have it both ways. First, he says natural gas prices were sharply increased due to cold weather and short supply, which drove up electric prices. Customers were shocked, he writes. Then, he says that wind energy drives prices negative – were customers delighted at that? Were their electric bills negative, too? Mr. Goreham grossly distorts the wind energy economics. If the prices go negative by more than the subsidy amount, wind energy receives zero revenue, too. Until grid-scale energy storage is affordable, wind energy does exactly what it is designed to do: it provides power when the wind blows.

    Mr. Goreham also glosses over the fundamental problem with nuclear power plants: their design forces them to compete against themselves by refusing to reduce operating rates at night. Nuclear plants operators expect EVERYONE ELSE to cut their load, take the operating losses, produce fewer kWh, so that they can keep right on humming at full rate. Now that wind energy plants are doing the same, running at night when the wind blows, they (nuclear advocates) are calling foul. Nope, no foul, it’s called competition.

    As I wrote: ” [here is] truth number one: nuclear power cannot compete. It is not the most economic choice for power generation. In fact, it is a losing proposition. Nuclear power plants almost always run at 100 percent or close to that, meaning they do not reduce output at night when demand for power is lowest. Their cash operating costs, for items such as labor, fuel, and consumables like water and chemicals, are higher than the price the utility will pay them. The fact that they do not reduce output at night forces them to compete with themselves, putting an unwanted and un-needed product into the market, driving down the prices”

    see http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-truth-about-nuclear-power-part-one.html

    Roger E. Sowell, Esq.

  26. SO GLAD to see the state of the North American grid as a topic of discussion here! I have been advocating a re-tooling of the grid to introduce continent-wide underground HVDC interconnects, and a concentrated effort to develop and deploy the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor — specifically the two fluid design with active reprocessing and a small volume of waste free of long-term actinides, requiring safe storage for a mere ~300 years. These two Big Projects represent survival, and true base load unlimited source of energy to end the era of steam and (ultimately) fossil fuel.

    My own letters are tailored to individuals and organizations, here are two of them, I’d be happy to hear comment and criticism.

    To The Honorable James M. Inhofe (R-OK), United States Senate, on energy

    To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate

    Mentioned in the letters,

    Thorium Remix 2011, the two hours that gave me hope: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lG1YjDdI_c8
    Roger W. Faulkner [2005]: Electric Pipelines for North American Power Grid Efficiency Security:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/181578758/Electric-Pipelines-for-North-American-Power-Grid-Efficiency-Security … the case for high voltage DC.

    Finally … this short film offers an apocalyptic vision of what might happen to the grid if negative pricing practices and parasitic no-win infrastructure is permitted to thrive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqg16z8ehp0

  27. Mike G wrote;

    “Six hours of power for $9,000. Well, things will get worse. So, that rate will go down, I suppose.”

    That is only how much it has been used in the first 9 months. Given that it should last 10-20 years, and I no longer have to stay up all night during a wind/ice storm to worry about overflowing sump pumps, etc. I thought it wise.

    We had an ice storm here about 20 years ago and some folks has NO electricity for 2 weeks until everything was restored. Life without electrons sucks, I have done it for a few days or so, you are really really happy when the electrons reappear, trust me.

    It was a bit of a splurge, but I can sleep good knowing that my finished basement (carpeting, drywall, furniture, appliances, etc, worth about $50,000) is not at significant risk.

    Whole house backup generators are not for everybody, but at about 5% (or less) of the cost of a home they make a lot of sense for some parts of the country. They are becoming a popular “upgrade” for newly built homes around here, a little planning while building the home and $5k additional in parts and you have very reliable electricity.

    I do not sell backup generators, or work for the folks that do, but they have become a surprisingly low cost insurance policy. Several decades ago somebody that had one would likely be considered a “kook”, but with houses worth hundreds of thousands nowadays 10 grand does not seem outrageous.

    And you can even get an “APP” for your smart phone to let you know the generator came on in your house while you are away (like in sunny south Florida, in January).

    Cheers, Kevin.

  28. If the system looks like overloading, black out Washington, they set the rules, let them take the pain.

  29. @Tom J – I cannot tell if your comment is serious or tongue in cheek, but it is serious none the less. Home generators are a big business in this area. And people are going for the automatically connected whole home. Expensive? Very, even for operation. But people no longer have a confidence of “uninterrupted power”.

    And I am one of them. The less I need it the better, but it is peace of mind.

  30. Since I work in the natural gas biz, everytime I read a story like this, all I hear is “Ka-Ching! Ka-Ching!!!”

    The simple fact is that nothing can take up the slack in the near term (say, the next 10 years) except nat gas. Not coal (political) not nuclear (too long a lead time) and not “renewables”. (pathetic)

    To paraphrase Bob Dylan, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know that demand is going to soar.

  31. I suspect too many people in positions of power learned everything they know about power grids and planning by playing sim city 2000. In that game all power stations blow up after exactly 50 years and cause pollution (which makes your sims riot) and various nasty disasters (fires nuclear meltdowns etc) except for wind turbines and hydro power stations. Wind turbines never cause problems, generate huge amounts of power, and never need replacing. Similarly hydro power is also problem free and extremely efficient, and can be obtained by simply putting a pond on a hillside tile and building a dam on it. Some clever games programmer with green leanings brainwashed a generation into thinking that wind power was the best.

  32. I would advise putting up a substantial supply of firewood early this spring, to take full advantage of whatever summer heat is available for drying the split wood. And, if you haven’t already, convert that fireplace to a wood stove insert with a heat exchanger jacket and blower fan. The shortages of propane experienced from the east coast to the mid west USA left many rural residences paying much higher propane fuel prices…. or having their delivered fuel limited to insufficient amounts for their needs.

    Of course, the EPA can then decide to issue regulations for wood stoves, making the maximum allowed particulate emissions from the stove flue unachievable…….

    I guess Ill be an outlaw then…. a warm outlaw.

  33. Alexwade said

    I am also glad that my home is heated by natural gas and not by a heat pump. If the electricity goes out, I still keep warm.

    Does your heating system not have electronic controls?

  34. Stephen Rasey: ClimateEtc Feb. 17, 2014
    Natural Gas is not inexhaustible, nor even temporarily infinite. The national cold snap strained supplies with March deliveries above $5.56 / MCF. I had hopes that a close call on a natural gas shortage would knock some sense into those who what to shut down coal fired power plants.

    Next year, with 60 GW of coal plants shut down, there is a greater danger that spare natural gas deliverability will not be available to avoid brown-out and rolling black-outs — Or what I’ll call BARAK-outs.

    Coal is a cheap fuel. Used properly in a big stationary electrical generation plant with flue gas scrubbers, it is a clean source of electricity. Use fuels for the purposes they are best suited. Leave Natural Gas for topping plants, home and industrial heating, and process industries. Use Coal for base load electrical generation.

    Nicholas K. Akins, CEO, American Electric Power at April 10, 2014 Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

    During this past winter, PJM was faced with certain challenges that threatened the reliability of the electric grid. PJM set a new all-time winter peak load of 141,846 megawatts on January 7, 2014. In fact, eight of PJM’s top 10 all-time winter peaks occurred in January 2014.

    At the same time that peak demands were being set, approximately 22 percent of total installed generation capacity in PJM was unavailable. Some generation units experienced forced outages resulting from equipment failure, cold temperature operations and some fuel supply issues. The initial polar vortex event at the beginning of January was an extreme, followed by continuing arctic weather throughout the month. The polar vortex represented only two of the 10 days PJM needed to call on Emergency Operating Procedures. Fortunately, the system operated without a loss of load event. It could have been much worse. As FERC Acting Chair LaFleur said at the April 1 FERC technical conference, “We had a difficult winter for both the electric and gas infrastructure and markets across the country. As others have noted, the system bent but it did not break. Reliability was sustained, but at times was very close to the edge.”

    The weather events experienced this winter provided an early warning about serious issues with electric supply and reliability. PJM was not alone. Many of the Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) and Balancing Authorities needed to call on Emergency Procedures to ensure reliable operations. This country did not just dodge a bullet – we dodged a cannon ball.

    We need to take action now to ensure adequate power plant capacity, fuel diversity and grid investment after the retirement of significant amounts of base load generation in mid-2015 and beyond. Because the base load generation that will retire in 14 months will not be fully replaced, this reliability concern is imminent and is a concern we need to proactively address.

    “We need to take action now….”
    Have you heard anything? From either side of the political isle?

    This summer we might experience some inconvenient blackouts on high demand days.
    This next winter I think we will find out that blackouts during cold spells are much worse than warm spells.

  35. @RS says:
    April 23, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    @KevinK says:
    April 23, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Folks should bear in mind that backup generator units are not designed for long continuous use. A couple weeks every year or so is fine. Move up to 8,000 hours per year and you’re probably going to replace it (or at least the engine) every year or so. Primary power gensets are going to be pricey, and not the sort of thing you generally find at Home Depot.

  36. The exact same thing is happening in Germany. After they panicked in the wake of the Tohoku quake in Japan (and even today state-run German media makes highly suggestive comments on March 11 where they hint that the 16,000 deaths came from Fukushima) and decided to turn off all nuclear power plants for no reason at all (other than hysterical screaming from the Greenists of how Fukushima could happen in Germany tomorrow) they eventually realized that they need systems to carry the production they lost.

    Of course in typical German “Gutmensch” fashion the solution is: more “renewable”, which is of course heavily funded by the government.

    Apart from the grid problems analysis of the price development suggests that, in the not so far future, electricity in Germany will cost between €0.6 and €1.5 per kWh.

    As a result investments into the German industry from outside has started to fall and there are already companies saying that, should the price for electricity rise just by a cent or two, they will have to shut down. Industry that needs a lot of power, like aluminum production, is effectively going to be destroyed by this insanity.

    But hey, at least they can then say “we are saving the planet!” when they have armies of unemployed and failing grids.

  37. The 14 kw Guardian by Generac I had installed 5 years ago went for about $3,000. installed. Make sure to purchase an automatic switch. Annual synthetic oil changes and load/component testing is important and worth the small fee to keep it in ship shape. Always lean a piece of plywood on the air intake side or else it will suck in drifted snow during it’s weekly auto-runs and result in water in the oil. One downside is the cost of filling a 500 gal LP gas tank.

  38. BTW…
    The White House, DOE and EPA and the yellow-bellied enviro’s preaching Green know fully that their policies and Rube Goldberg tech are ruining the electrical grid stability. Obama promised energy costs to skyrocket. Thanks for nothing watermelons. One plus is many melons live in the DC area and when the grid goes down there, being totally unprepared for winters like our last one….lol. Sorry, but it serves them right.

  39. ” Nuclear plants are aging and beset by mounting losses, driven by negative pricing from subsidized wind systems. ”

    Funny , we’re usually told that total wind production is a drop in the ocean, so small it’s not worth paying for. Now it is the root cause of lack of profitability of “aging” nuclear plant.

    “Aging” plant always has increasing maintenance costs and this probably hits nuclear harder than other industrial plant because of the stringent safety issues. Many of these reactors are already operating well beyond their initial design life-time. The only thing making continued operation feasible is fear of the enormous cost of decommissioning.

    Nuclear reactors have evolved little in last 50 years and were installed for military reasons which made them ‘feasible’, not civil needs.

    If nuclear is have a future it needs a quantum leap towards more inherently safe processes that do not produce mountains of unmanageable toxic waste.

  40. Roger Sowell says: …” refusing to reduce operating rates at night. Nuclear plants operators expect EVERYONE ELSE to cut their load, take the operating losses, produce fewer kWh, so that they can keep right on humming at full rate. Now that wind energy plants are doing the same, running at night when the wind blows, they (nuclear advocates) are calling foul. Nope, no foul, it’s called competition. ”

    Exactly. Nuclear has always been a special case and has always been heavily subsidised in one way or another. It gets special treatment for very powerful reasons which one may or may not agree with but cannot ignore.

    Mr Goreham , like most nuclear proponents, manages to overlook this and pretend that the nuclear industry competes in a simple economic way with other energy sources.

    This is about as honest the IPCC’s calculations that start out with a conclusions drawn on a political conviction, then select the facts and figures to suit.

  41. KevinK
    I grew up in rural Scotland without electricity, many of our neighbours had small (2-3 KW) generators but not us. As you say life without electricity sucks. I suppose the price of these generators will drop as demand is going to rise in the near future If we’d had the money we would have had a generator too.

  42. Recently Scotland had a blackout that lasted several hours. cause Unknown. But those in the know claim that FF producers were ramped down because the wind was forecast to start to blow and enable wind turbines to work. This did not happen as forecast.
    Another reason not to rely on wind.

  43. Blacking out Washington D.C. would be a logical first resort power saving emergency step, as it would not injure productive capacity and would deliver a clear message.

  44. I view the grid as the distribution system. Shutting down coal fired plants does not create a distribution problem; it creates a supply problem.

  45. Stablility of the energy grid and constraints on production seem to be two separate issues. With more production, wouldn’t the grid be more unstable? Or, is the production not meeting demand that causes the instability?

  46. Blackouts are good for sceptics. It seems that high energy prices and / or blackouts are the only things that will focus minds away from a beneficial trace gas and onto life and death issue, literally.

    GUARDIAN – 17 October 2013
    UK faces increased risk of blackouts, report warns
    Study says government needs to provide fresh financial incentives for electricity generators to keep the lights on

    …The situation is likely to prevail for several years, because in 2019 at least four nuclear reactors are also scheduled to shut down….

  47. About infrastructure unable to support electric cars, good observation. About private generating capabilities, be careful, the regulators are already taking notice. I recommend, instead, move household infrastructure away from all robust infrastructure/power source, and to antifragile systems able to use what is available.

    We heat with mains electricity for its subsidy and efficiency. We keep propane for back-up and ability to perform during extended electrical outages. At winter’s end, our propane capacity is at 80% of full. NOTE that our insurance company demanded removal of a freestanding wood burning heater. Where cordwood is cheap, the regulations are weighty.

  48. The next big thing for colder areas is micro cogen. Instead of a $10k emergency generator, you have a $25k 10kw 100% duty cycle system running on gas that gives you 90% of your electricity and 100% of your heat. Basically, as lunatic energy policies push up rates past $0.14 /kWh you get all your heat free, while also saving on power. This is using gas at residential rates.

    Businesses with 10+ employees and lots of energy requirements are even better to change over.

    Large mining and others are already unplugged.
    Every time someone unplugs the remaining people on the grid have to pay more to keep it running. So grid rates rise.

  49. Tom Andersen says: April 24, 2014 at 4:58 am “The next big thing for colder areas is micro cogen. Instead of a $10k emergency generator, you have a $25k 10kw 100% duty cycle system running on gas that gives you 90% of your electricity and 100% of your heat.”

    Can you provide a recommendation or suggested provider, please?

  50. I’ve seen the economics of local generation at first hand. After a dispute with a neighbour our 3phase to the farm was cut off. Rather than renegotiate the supply we went with a generator powered from the tractor PTO. Allowed us to run the feed mills and other farm machinery and charge the electric fence batteries and reduced the cost massively. We even charged a few extra leisure batteries for the neighbours who had emergency 12v lighting circuits and inverters for freezer UPS. In the end it was the best thing that could have happened, should have looked at it sooner.

    I know domestic usage doesn’t follow the pattern we had, where an intermittent but reliable supply was acceptable, but if Ed Davey gets his way and goes for windmills with no storage or backup plans I’m pretty sure a lot of people will look to personal/local fill-in solutions which are ecologically much less sound than a central generating capacity. Law of Unintended Consequences and all that.

    On another topic. I wonder if anyone in the US has done a retrospective analysis of what would have happened last winter if full on mitigation had started in the mid/late 20th century. I’m sure there are plenty of alarmist horror stories in there that could get media attention….

  51. Larry Butler says:
    April 23, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    America could use a good dose of gasoline, gas, electric, and water rationing that might make them think twice about that new Ford F-250 with the 10-cylinder redneck penis extension purchase for something a little more “Earth Friendly”….smaller home, smaller car, smaller load, smaller guzzlers.
    __________________________
    Did it ever occur to you that big trucks are needed to pull big loads? Your attitude is so typical of those who would control the lives of others and do so through authoritarian/totalitarian government power at the point of a gun. Get back in your Prius and go away,

  52. Mr. Sowell-

    I keep reading about the negatives of nuclear power from your post above, and I guess I am gaving trouble with my reading comprehension again. You say:

    “…putting an unwanted and un-needed product into the market, driving down the prices…”

    Could you expand on “unwanted” power and the negative aspects of “driving down prices” , please?

    I keep thinking that if electrical power became very cheap (at night if I understand you at all) and that power intensive industries would shift their production schedules to take advantage of that.

    As for “unneeded” I keep thinking that if electrical home heating ( grabbing at an easy example) suddenly became cheaper than gas, a lot of people would convert to the cheaper alternative, increasing demand. I am fairly sure that there are multitudes of other cases where cheaper electricity would increase demand.

    So, please tell me where I’m wrong. I hate running around basing my arguments on false assumptions because of lack of facts.

  53. In October of 2003 Hurricane Isabel darkened areas of North Carolina and Virginia, including Hampton Roads, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach, for a full month, and that wasn’t even a peak-use period. Literally millions of people lost electrical power.
    In October 2012 about 6 – 10 million people lost power, some for several weeks, to the tropical storm remnants of Hurricane Sandy.
    The grid is even less resilient today, thanks to the closure of coal-power stations by bureaucrats kowtowing to elected officials who in turn are pandering to environmentalists and anti-capitalists, hoping to get re-elected.

  54. So our feckless leader OBozo not only promised to put coal out of business, he meant nuclear too. Gas, eventually, one has to presume.

  55. Another issue worried about in the electric industry is the regulatory move toward installing distributed generation (DG). While the notion of having multiple, “clean” power generation assets spread across the grid has appeal – especially during a long-term restoration effort, the reality is that DG destabilizes a historically-proven approach to electric transmission/distribution. However, the DG asset deliberately supplies a minority of people without concern for the majority, as a principle of resiliency.

    The historic, centralized approach supplied relatively cheap, reliable electricity for an overwhelming majority of time (98% of a typical year) to the great majority of people. The supply exceptions were mostly storm-related impacts and less frequent equipment failures. With the increased reliance on all things electronic AND internet-based, ratepayer INTOLERANCE for outages during that 2% has increased – dramatically over just the past decade, which coincides with the timing of broadband market penetration. The alleged 21st century solution to this 19th century grid is to keep a “backbone” but break its supply into multiple, DG assets. Each break point, though, requires real-time monitoring and protective equipment to ensure the stability of the backbone; thus, each new, break point becomes another point of failure on what was once a decidedly stable system.

    While the installations of most DG assets in the U.S. are subsidized currently by the taxpayer, similar funding is NOT provided for their subsequent maintenance. So, when these units fail – as all things mechanical eventually do, the question of “who” pays for the repairs is raised. The response from the affected ratepayers is that the electric utility should pay, but (more often than not) the DG asset was neither owned nor operated by the utility. Therefore, the minority of people who benefited from the DG asset are the responsible parties for the repair. When the price tag on the repair is revealed, a small but increasing number of DG owners are quietly forgoing the repair (e.g., the idle wind turbine on an obviously windy day). Instead, they agree to accept power solely from the backbone – the regulatory default provider. But come the next, major storm, which results in widespread power outages, these former DG owners seemingly have no reservations about voicing their frustration about 19th century service.

    The electric industry is (correctly) concerned that it’ll be saddled with maintaining these DG assets, resulting in yet another increase to electric rates. Trying to educate the ratepayer as to why the cost of electricity has increased because of DG is already a lost cause because of its inherent complexity. You likely won’t read a utility executive voicing such concern over DG because it’s politically verboten in such a heavily-regulated industry, but that doesn’t change the reality of the issue.

  56. This could be simple to fix using the new ‘smart meters’. Every EPA office and residence of anyone working for EPA, together with the Capitol and associated offices, the Whitehouse and associated offices and all congress and senate members offices and private houses should have their power cut whenever there is a power cut anywhere in the country due to insufficient generation. The power to remain off until the power cut is restored. They are the ones that caused the problem they should be made aware that it is not ‘someone else’s problem’ it is their problem too. I am sure that some thought might be put to the problem by these politicians and bureaucrats if they were always in receipt of the problems caused.

  57. nc says:
    April 23, 2014 at 9:23 pm (replying to) Alexwade said

    I am also glad that my home is heated by natural gas and not by a heat pump. If the electricity goes out, I still keep warm.

    Does your heating system not have electronic controls?

    To both of you: You do understand that, in the event of an electric blackout, your home gas-fired heater “might” be available (if the local natural gas system keeps the pressure up through in-line gas-burning turbines to keep their pipelines pressurized!) … Or if your off-grid propane tank is filled.

    But ANY gas-burning furnaces will trip off immediately if your electric-powered house distribution fan is not ALSO running! You MUST have a lasting 120 VAC (220 in Europe and South America) independent electric power source that you can power your house fan. I have both a small welder-generator, and a solar-powered battery+ inverter system. Either can run the heater fan, and both have been tested running that fan.)

  58. My propane gas log functions fine as a convection heater – tested long, tested strong. Distribution is not needed in a one room ‘cabin’, convection is nice for efficiency.

    Further, my diesel powered Welsbach mantle lantern provides 60/100 Watts equivalent light and lots of cozy ‘waste’ heat.

  59. If Svensmark’s hypothesis is correct, we are headed for a “perfect storm” Time to buy a generator

  60. sumdood,

    Right. I’ve got ten 5-gallon gasoline containers filled and treated with gas preservative. Now I’m shopping for a generator in the 8 – 14 kw range. Consumer Reports lists two that they recommend. If anyone is interreested in which ones I’ll go look them up. And there is always the ultra-low priced Harbor Freight.

    You need something to at least keep your refrigerator running, plus some extra power for your TV, computer &etc. for a couple of days if necessary. Probably 4 kw would be enough, but just. They cost about $10/Watt, +/-.

    Of course you can spend a lot and get a Cadillac. I just want something to weather a temporary crisis. If it’s more than that, the biggest and best won’t be enough.

  61. Sounds like the NE needs to create several large geologic gas storage facilities soon, like yesterday.

  62. The UK is heading the same way too, and we are dependent on a host of foreign countries, including Russia, for our supplies. For once, we just might beat you Yanks in this race!

  63. For those interested in engaging in debate with Mr Sowell, you may wish to note the following.

    I asked him a question. He’s been asked this question five times* that I know of, going back to March. As far as I can tell, he’s yet to even acknowledge the question, although he’s entered into lively debates with both earlier and later correspondents in one article here at WUWT. Be warned, it seems he only responds to questions for which he feels he has a prepared answer, and I believe his input here should be weighed accordingly.

    This arose from a comment Mr Sowell made in response to another correspondent on a WUWT posting**: Mr Sowell’s comment is reproduced here:

    “That talking point is full of misdirection. France nationalized the entire power industry. Then charged whatever price they wanted to. It makes sense, too, because one of the few things that France exports is, well, nuclear power plants. It would make for very bad PR if the home country had realistic power prices, not FULLY SUBSIDIZED BY THE GOVERNMENT.” (my capitals for emphasis)

    He’s simply been asked to back up what he’s said with evidence. Five times.
    I can see four possibilities going forward:

    1. He has or can find the evidence to back up what he said, and he’ll promptly put the links up here – if he does, he’ll have my thanks, and my understanding of the nuclear power debate will have been improved.
    2. He doesn’t have/cannot find the evidence to back up what he said and, being an officer of the Court and a man of integrity, he’ll ‘fess up. I’m sure he remembers deontological ethics, and that they don’t stop at the Courthouse door.
    3. He can start ad hominem attacks on me, and/or sophistic arguments in an attempt to say he didn’t say what he said.
    4. He can continue to behave as though the question doesn’t wasn’t asked. Five times.
    Anyone who’ll only answer or acknowledge the questions that suit them would appear to be either ill-prepared or ill-informed. I acknowledge that there may be other explanations that don’t immediately spring to mind.

    Mr Sowell, if you did publish links to supporting evidence for your position in either of the two relevant WUWT blogs, please provide a link and a time stamp (pre-dating this one), and I’ll post my apologies in this article – but I can’t find it.

    p.s. Completely OT, I know, but he signs off articles on his blog as “Roger E. Sowell, Esq.” (http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com).
    What does “Esq.” even mean, in a modern context? Is he apprenticed to a knight? If it’s a title of respect, who conferred it on him? what are we to infer about the man if he bestowed it upon himself?

    p.p.s. I don’t have a dog in this fight. I do not have and never have had a law office. I’ve never represented or advised clients on climate change, process safety, environmental regulations, engineering malpractice and other matters. Before not opening that law office, I have never worked for 20 years in more than 75 refineries and petrochemical plants in a dozen countries on four continents.
    Wow. Just stop and think about that for a moment. More than 75 plants in 20 years. Arranged consecutively – which it would have to be, if a person is working “in” them, rather than “for”, or “with” – that averages out at less than 98 days “in” each place of employment. I’m really not sure what to make of that.

    * The five times the question has been put to Mr Sowell can be seen at the following links, with date stamps provided:
    1. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/03/31/a-conversation-with-dr-james-hansen-on-nuclear-power – asked by Tsk Tsk at March 31 2014, 9:49pm
    2. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/03/31/a-conversation-with-dr-james-hansen-on-nuclear-power – asked by me at April 2 2014, 4:50 & 4:53pm
    3. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/03/31/a-conversation-with-dr-james-hansen-on-nuclear-power – asked by me at April 4 2014, 3:44pm
    4. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/04/14/ipcc-wgiii-throwing-the-greens-under-the-bus/ – asked by me April 16 2014, 7:21am
    5. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/04/14/ipcc-wgiii-throwing-the-greens-under-the-bus/ – asked by me at April 17 2014, 12:10am

    **http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/03/31/a-conversation-with-dr-james-hansen-on-nuclear-power, March 31 2014, at 6:22pm

  64. GreggB says:

    What does “Esq.” even mean, in a modern context? Is he apprenticed to a knight? If it’s a title of respect, who conferred it on him? what are we to infer about the man if he bestowed it upon himself?

    If I’m not misteaken, ‘esq.’ indicates a lawyer. They all do it. ☺

  65. The problems with our electrical grid are an example of what happens when an all-powerful government is driven by ideology. When the system fails, the answer will be that they need more power to regulate, and that they didn’t enact their ideology driven laws soon enough.

    Living in Idaho, with cheap, reliable power, has spoiled me. When I was in upstate NY, and in NC, power was interrupted when it was needed the most, during winter storms. I used a portable generator several times year, sometimes for 3 or more days at time. Electric was cheap, and no nat gas available, so gasoline generator was the only option to save the frozen food and keep the fan running on the fireplace insert.

    Micro CHP is worth considering (installed cost about $25,000) in cold climates with high power costs, and in areas that typically experience lengthy power outages. They claim payback of a few years, and time between maintenance of up to 9,000 hours (oil change, spark plug), if electric rates are $.14/KWH or higher. No estimate of life of the unit that I could find, but nat gas engines can last many years. At this time, micro CHP probably only makes sense in a few states, like New York and Alaska, although local rates can vary dramatically depending on the power source. If Dear Leader gets his way, micro CHP may be viable everywhere.

  66. James at 48 says:
    April 23, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    And special forces of an adversary could shoot up a dozen transformers and bring down the grid.
    ———————

    That very thing occurred via a “drive-by shooting” like 4 years ago here where I live. Some “yahoo” shot a high power rifle slug into the sub-station transformer that feeds the homes and businesses in the surrounding area and we were all without power for like seven (7) days while AEP was finding a replacement transformer and getting it installed.

    The power companies don’t keep very many of those BIG transformers “on-hand” so iffen an adversary group decided to “shoot” a hole in dozens of them ….. then power would be out for a long, long time and the culprits would probably never caught.

  67. It seems like we’re back to “Back to the Future”….

    Doc: “How could I have been so careless? 142 gigawatts!
    Tom, how am I gonna generate that kind of power?”

    Here in Germany businesses have threatened to cut down investement or downright leave if something isn’t done. The Greens (as usual) are ticked off at the SPD for possibly knuckling under…add to this the potential instability/cutoff of the natural gas supply coming from Russia via the Ukraine, and it looks like the politicians will actually have to work for a living (at least for a while)…

    I think it’s been a really, really long time since we’ve had a Tsunami here…:) So I’m hoping nuclear gets another chance…

  68. “Samuel C Cogar says:
    April 24, 2014 at 9:27 am”
    I saw an article the other day about what happened in San Jose – what’s really disturbing is some of the transformers are IMPORTED, which not only is a pain for electricity users, but seems to be a strategic and/or military point of weakness as well….

  69. Larry Butler says:
    April 23, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    If you like poverty .. you can keep it.

    Rationing resources is sooo immoral.

  70. Samuel C Cogar says:
    April 24, 2014 at 9:27 am
    James at 48 says:
    April 23, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    “And special forces of an adversary could shoot up a dozen transformers and bring down the grid.”
    ———————

    Don’t even need a gun. Just get a RC Plane and dangle a cable of the rear end and then fly the cable into a set of high voltage lines….

    A crude form of what we did in Iraq with cruise missiles..

  71. @ GreggB on April 24, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Re France and subsidized power industry, I refer you to my recent article at

    http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-truth-about-nuclear-power-part.html

    You can refuse to believe EDF, France’s national power company when they state the industry was fully nationalized, and only recently partially privatized. You can refuse to believe the EU investigation for subsidized prices. Your choice.

    By the way, US power prices are lower now compared to France, even with the French subsidies. Nuclear power at 85 percent of the grid over there is doing a bang-up job, right?

  72. Well, in South-Africa we had power black out in 2008 and in this year, not to long ago, another black out for a week long due to wet coal being delivered to the power stations.

  73. @Roger Sowell says at April 24, 2014 at 10:35 am:

    Mr Sowell, thank you for acknowledging that I asked a question; at least the debate is now moving forward.

    For the record, what I choose to believe is that you referred to French “PRICES, not fully subsidized by the government” (my capitals for emphasis). Your comments regarding the INDUSTRY being nationalized, and an EU investigation (for which you provide no links), provides exactly zero evidence for your words. For clarity’s sake, please provide a quote and a link for your apparent assertion that the EU investigation stated that France fully subsidized energy PRICES – with the obvious result of a “zero” on the bills of French consumers.

    So far, it’s starting to look like you’re going with option three (sophistic arguments to try and say you didn’t say what you said), which is rather disappointing. I hope I’m mistaken.

    Really, it’s a straightforward question, and should be easy to either substantiate or withdraw.

    For the seventh time (I think; I’m losing count), back to you, Mr Sowell.

  74. @ GreggB on April 24, 2014 at 11:35 am

    I am not sure if you cannot read, or refuse to read. I refer you to my linked article, in my previous comment.

    For your information, a fully nationalized industry is considered fully subsidized.

    It is always amusing to see the extent to which nuclear advocates defend the French model.

    This discussion with you is closed.

  75. There are significant economies of scale in having centralized generation of electricity. Governments’ assault on the centralized generators of electricity is leading us to where we will revert to decentralized generation, with its higher cost.

  76. Roger Sowell says: April 24, 2014 at 12:04 pm
    For your information, a fully nationalized industry is considered fully subsidized.
    _____________________________________

    What utter bollo. You do come out with some tripe sometimes, Rog.

    Would you consider a fully nationalised car plant, selling family saloons at $50,000 each, as being a ‘fully subsidised’ price?

    French power costs are only subsidised if they fall bellow the reasonable cost of production and a small margin of profit.

    ralph

  77. “Samuel C Cogar says:

    “The power companies don’t keep very many of those BIG transformers ‘on-hand’…”

    But they don’t (necessarily) need to retain them for every install.

    I’m surprised at the seven day outage due to a power transformer failure, during presumably blue sky (i.e., non-storm) conditions…? If an extended outage is anticipated, industry practice is to bring in portable generation and/or a mobile substation to supply the impacted customers, minimize the outage, and improve feeder reliability. Investor-owned utilities (IOUs) like AEP maintain emergency response plans (ERPs), which detail response actions to such scenarios and include a logistics section for material supply (e.g., the section identifies proactively purchase orders with portable generation vendors). Although the affected power transformer may take some time to repair/replace, power is usually restored (with most incidents) in 24-72 hours. Again, this assumes blue sky day conditions; a major storm restoration is another animal with its own stripes.

    “Box of Rocks says:

    “…Just get a RC Plane and dangle a cable of the rear end and then fly the cable into a set of high voltage lines…”

    True enough, but that’s a one and done approach. Once the cable (or even the iron-coated film of an old cassette or eight-track tape – lighter weight for the RC plane) makes contact phase to phase, the cable and RC plane are ash. More than likely, the breaker on the affected circuit would open (trip) due to the fault. After a visual patrol of the circuit and inspection of the breaker/associated power transformer, the breaker would be closed and transformer energized. At most, there would be be 1-3 hours of interruption based mostly on the circuit length requiring patrol.

    But… drop thousands of three to six-foot long conductive fibers across the entire footprint of a substation, and a number of asymmetric faults occur concurrently alongside minor, physical damage. Although this impact would require a longer repair time (a few days to find and remove all the fibers and repair the damage), the installation would not be damaged permanently. And thus, we have the BLU-114/B “Soft Bomb” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BLU-114/B_%22Soft-Bomb%22 .

  78. Reblogged this on Power To The People and commented:
    Even though temperatures have not risen in years (despite the rise in CO2), the EPA appears to be on a suicide mission to impair America’s ability to secure her energy future by imposing the use of renewable energy that:

    Provides a fraction of the energy fossil fuel does;

    Is weather dependent and will not work in severe weather

    Is intermittent and unreliable;

    Causes great harm to the environment;

    “Skyrockets” fuel prices that harms poor people the most and

    Does nothing to mitigate Climate Change.

  79. I late again. It’s probably already been brought up.
    Those going to home generators when the grid goes down illustrate in microcosm the problems imposed on the grid by the push for solar and wind to power it and the “war on coal”. (They are even going after the mining itself now. The latest salvo in the US has to do with “air quality” in the mines.)
    A home generator is a backup when the grid goes down. The grid will, if the “war on coal” succeeds, have no backup.

  80. Roger Sowell says:
    April 23, 2014 at 7:11 pm
    ++++++++++
    Your post is pure selective obfuscation.

    Wind turbine get tax credits so they can undercut baseload – paid for by people who are forced to pay taxes. This is anti capitalistic.

    Baseload (such as coal and nuclear) is under threat because Wind turbines are being paid tax money for often doing nothing at all.

    Wind power also requires 100% baseload backup for when they do not produce. Else the grid goes down.

    Wind turbines make baseload more expensive, because much of the baseload has to throttle back to
    accept wind power when it blows. They are forced to run inefficiently, driving up costs.

    Because of supporters of wind power, plants are closing, and those plant closings remove baseload which is required to back up wind power.

    Can you understand how to string slightly complex thoughts together?

    Please stop obfuscating, you’re just making yourself look dull.

  81. Mr Sowell says just enough to support his argument while leaving out important facts. Wind has essentially zero variable operating costs, they cost no more to operate than to not operate without subsidies. With subsidies they actually have negative operating costs. Of course, their capital cost, a fixed cost, is very high, and no one would build them absent those cash subsidies. They beat nearly every source of power on cost after they are built. Most are not selling into the market though they are selling at above market rates on contract to meet renewable mandates. They are subsidized by both taxpayers via direct cash subsidies and consumers via regulated rates…..what a racket. In short, they can’t compete with anything without subsidies and nothing can compete with them with subsidies.

  82. ‘something a little more “Earth Friendly”’

    Earth is a dirt ball. You want us to be friendly to a dirt ball?

  83. @ Mario Lento on April 24, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    A primer for you, on wind and other renewable financing available from government. This is from USBank, a reputable and large bank in the US. Essentially, one can choose one or the other, but not both, an investment tax credit for a portion (30 percent) of the cost of the (usually solar-based) asset, or a production tax credit for any energy including wind energy that is produced but only for the first 10 years of operation. Note that, if no power is produced, no revenue is produced either. Therefore, your statement that “Wind turbines are being paid tax money for often doing nothing at all” looks pretty silly. Can you string slightly complex thoughts together? If not, let me know and I will make the words smaller and simpler. Are you intentionally making yourself look dull?

    “RETC Overview [Renewable Energy Tax Credits]
    There are two primary types of RETCs: Investment Tax Credits (ITCs) and Production Tax Credits (PTCs).

    Investment Tax Credits, which are utilized primarily for solar facilities, provide a tax credit equal to 30 percent of the eligible costs to the owners of certain renewable energy facilities that have been placed in service. This tax credit is available through 2016, at which point it is reduced to a permanent 10 percent credit.

    1603 Grants for Solar: In 2008, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which gives owners of certain renewable energy facilities the option to receive a 30 percent, tax exempt grant in lieu of the ITC. Due to the program’s 2011 sunset, 1603 grants are currently only available for energy projects that have met specific safe-harbor rules (i.e. more than five percent of eligible project costs had been incurred in 2011) and only if such projects will be operational by the end of 2016.

    Production Tax Credits, which are primarily available for wind, biomass, geothermal, and landfill gas facilities, provide a tax credit based on the amount of energy produced by renewable energy projects and are generally available to the owners of such projects. The PTC provides an inflation-adjusted cent per kilowatt-hour tax credit for the first 10 years of a renewable energy facility’s operation and is available for projects that have “begun construction” before January 1, 2014.

    ITC in lieu of PTC: Along with the creation of the 1603 grant, ARRA also permitted PTC-eligible projects to elect to receive the ITC in lieu of the PTC. Following the American Tax Relief Act of 2012, the election will be available for projects that have begun construction before January 1, 2014.”

    source: https://www.usbank.com/commercial-business/tax-credit-financing/renewable-energy-tax-credits-basics.html

    Nuclear plants have been receiving government handouts, subsidies, and other benefits for decades. Now that wind energy projects are also receiving some small assistance, the nuclear advocates such as yourself, are squawking like you have been murdered. Nuclear plants receive, among other things, 1) huge loan guarantees from government, 2) government relief from radiation liability and lawsuits, 3) regulation that no lawsuits during construction are allowed (with a minor exception), 4) regulation to raise prices during construction to avoid interest costs on loan, and 5) operating regulations are routinely relaxed to allow plants to not spend money to comply. The US EPA did not pass a carbon tax (yet) , but effectively got the same result by regulating CO2 emissions from power plants so that coal plants must shut down. Nuclear vendors are hopeful that the baseload from shut down coal plants will be replaced with nuclear. Nice subsidies, those. And all for nuclear power plants.

  84. Roger Sowell says:

    …your statement that “Wind turbines are being paid tax money for often doing nothing at all” looks pretty silly.

    Give Mario some leeway, Roger. The way I read that is that much of the time, no power is being generated by windmills. And if I recall, English is Mario’s second language.

    That said, what are your thoughts about nuclear power?

  85. Roger Sowell says:
    April 24, 2014 at 5:41 pm
    @ Mario Lento on April 24, 2014 at 4:17 pm
    +++++++
    I am not interested in reading more drivel, which has nothing to do with my post to you. In that post, I attempted to help you understand your confusion with regard to your post @ (Roger Sowell says:
    April 23, 2014 at 7:11 pm).

    You seem incapable of cogent interchange.

  86. dbstealey says:
    April 24, 2014 at 5:47 pm
    Roger Sowell says:
    …your statement that “Wind turbines are being paid tax money for often doing nothing at all” looks pretty silly.

    Give Mario some leeway, Roger. The way I read that is that much of the time, no power is being generated by windmills. And if I recall, English is Mario’s second language.

    That said, what are your thoughts about nuclear power?
    +++++++++
    Hey dbstealey: Sure it may seem that English is my second language, but it is my primary language :)
    Yes – windmills are paid in many ways, which increase cost to tax payers.

  87. Nuclear plants receive about 2 dollars per MWh subsidy. Mostly R&D not direct payments to operators. Wind receives 22 dollars per MWh just from the tax subsidy.

  88. To Roger Sowell: If you don’t admit that more wind turbine installed won’t lead to more blackouts and power shortages, then your level of dishonesty is all the more apparent.

  89. @ Doug Badgero on April 24, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Wow, are you serious? So much falsehood in this comment, I don’t know where to begin.

    “Mr Sowell says just enough to support his argument while leaving out important facts.”

    No, the argument is clear. Nuclear is losing. Wind is winning.

    “Wind has essentially zero variable operating costs”

    No, their variable costs are between 1 and 2 cents per kWh.

    , they cost no more to operate than to not operate without subsidies.”

    No, they have fixed costs to pay even when they do not operate.

    With subsidies they actually have negative operating costs.”

    No, they have around 11 cents per kWh levelized operating costs, without any subsidies. Subsidies amount to around 2 to 6 cents per kWh. Buffett reports receiving 2.2 cents per kWh.

    Of course, their capital cost, a fixed cost, is very high, and no one would build them absent those cash subsidies.”

    I suppose Warren Buffett is “nobody” then. The capital costs of wind turbines is dropping dramatically, year upon year, and is the reason Buffett invested $1 billion late in 2013 for many more turbines.

    They beat nearly every source of power on cost after they are built.”

    Ok, you got one thing right. Congratulations. The only thing with lower variable operating cost is hydroelectric.

    Most are not selling into the market though they are selling at above market rates on contract to meet renewable mandates.”

    This makes no sense. If they are not selling into the market, then to where are they selling?

    They are subsidized by both taxpayers via direct cash subsidies and consumers via regulated rates…..what a racket.”

    Nonsense. They get one or the other, but not both. I refer you to my answer just above to Mario Lento.

    In short, they can’t compete with anything without subsidies and nothing can compete with them with subsidies.”

    Wrong again. Actually, even without subsidies, wind energy can compete quite well with everything except geothermal, hydroelectric, and solar. See California Energy Commission “COMPARATIVE COSTS OF CALIFORNIA CENTRAL STATION ELECTRICITY GENERATION” from 2009, then note that wind turbine capital costs have dropped dramatically in the past 5 years. (see Buffett reference above).

  90. @ Mario Lento on April 24, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    “To Roger Sowell: If you don’t admit that more wind turbine installed won’t lead to more blackouts and power shortages, then your level of dishonesty is all the more apparent.”

    Is that a backhand way of calling me a liar? Come right out and say it, then.

    What level of wind energy leads to more blackouts and power shortages, Mario? Is Iowa’s level too much? In 2012, wind provided a bit more than 25 percent of all Iowa power. In 2013, that percent increased to just over 27 percent. It will increase even more this year. Yet, Iowa has a stable grid, few (if any) blackouts or power shortages attributable to wind. There are the usual weather-related events.

    And, Iowa has some of the lowest power prices in the nation. Even with 25 percent and greater wind energy into the grid.

    South Dakota also obtains 26 percent of its electricity from wind turbines.

    Get your facts straight, whichever language you choose to use.

    Otherwise, your level of dishonesty is all the more apparent.

  91. @ ralfellis says:

    “What utter bollo. You do come out with some tripe sometimes, Rog.

    French power costs are only subsidised if they fall bellow the reasonable cost of production and a small margin of profit.”

    Well, then, you should run over to the EU Commission and give them an earful. That Commission investigated and found France has been subsidizing electric power prices for decades. I’m sure you can correct them on this, though.

    Report back here, when you have corrected their grievous error.

  92. Roger you do not know what you are talking about. The variable operating cost of any power source is dominated by fuel costs. Wind costs nothing. The only variable operating costs of a wind turbine is the difference between maintenance costs for an operating turbine versus a non operating turbine. This isn’t much. 1 to 2 cents per kWh is very low for variable operating costs. Nuclear is about 2 or slightly more and coal or gas are much more because fuel is expensive. Gas can easily be 4 cents or more depending on heat rate.

    Wind turbines usually get tax production credits and above market rates via contracts because utilities are forced by state regulators to get x percent of their power from renewables. This cost is passed on to consumers in regulated rate recovery. It’s as simple as that. They do not sell into the spot market they sell under contract. Contracts that are above market because of the renewable mandates.

    And I am pretty sure Buffett took the subsidies.

  93. Roger Sowell says:
    April 24, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Wrong again. Actually, even without subsidies, wind energy can compete quite well with everything except geothermal, hydroelectric, and solar. See California Energy Commission “COMPARATIVE COSTS OF CALIFORNIA CENTRAL STATION ELECTRICITY GENERATION” from 2009, then note that wind turbine capital costs have dropped dramatically in the past 5 years

    ====================

    “Capital costs have dropped” is a dodge. Say wind turbine capital costs are low. If you can.

    Wind turbine electrical generation is supplemental. Wind turbine capital costs, for a viable electric supply system, must include the fixed cost for the backup electrical generation. BWTM . . . the more reliable the wind turbine supply becomes, the less economically viable backup generation facilities become.

    “The more reliable wind turbine generation becomes, the more likely blackouts become.” – GC

  94. @ Doug Badgero, you do not know what you are talking about.

    Variable operating costs are not dominated by fuel costs for wind, solar, geothermal, or hydroelectric, ocean current, ocean wave, river run, or ocean tides. Those variable costs are strictly for operating labor and maintenance. The ones that are dominated by fuel costs are coal, gas, oil, and nuclear.

    Buffett reported to the Federal government (penalties are huge for false statements) that his wind turbines received 2.2 cents per kWh produced. You could look it up. Or call me a liar. Your choice.

    The USBank statements that I quoted above will give you a quick primer into wind power and the renewable energy tax credits available for such systems. Or, you could call USBank a liar, too. Your choice.

    There are things known as PPA’s, production power agreements, that typically provide from 2 to 6 cents per kWh for the sale of wind-generated electricity to a utility. Such power is far less than what other generating plants receive, because wind is not dispatchable due to the variable nature of wind.

    While utilities must pay wind energy producers the 2 to 6 cents for power, they are saving the 4 to 8 cents for power backed out, as you wrote above, the variable operating costs for power not produced in a gas-fired power plant. So, who is the big loser here? Customers get power whether the wind is blowing or not, utilities pay 3 cents to the wind power owner, save 5 cents on their own plants, for a gain of 2 cents per kWh. See how this works now?

  95. RACook wrote;

    “To both of you: You do understand that, in the event of an electric blackout, your home gas-fired heater “might” be available (if the local natural gas system keeps the pressure up through in-line gas-burning turbines to keep their pipelines pressurized!) … Or if your off-grid propane tank is filled.”

    Well…. there are “microvolt” thermostatic controls that use a small thermopile in the pilot burner to generate enough voltage/current to safely control the main gas flow. I have an LP powered stove, it looks like a wood stove but is sealed from the interior air with a double walled combustion/exhaust vent pipe. It is fueled from an off grid LP tank (500 gallons) and it will function perfectly well with no AC power from the electric utility. The thermopile safely controls the main gas flow and I can control it with a simple low voltage thermostat (a bimetallic coil with a magnet that controls a “reed switch” which is just a low voltage set of contacts). Yes, it needs AC power for the fan (which moves the warm air around to make things more uniform/comfortable), but it will generate lots of heat with or without the fan (about 30k btu).

    Yes, a modern furnace will not light the main burner without AC main voltage present, but that is because the heat exchanger is designed to maximize efficiency and needs the fan working to move the heat away quickly enough so it does not melt. But there is no fundamental reason that a gas powered stove/furnace has to have AC main power available to generate heat, distribute the heat yes, generate it, no.

    Just a little nitpicking. Kevin

  96. A ratepayor subsidy would not be disclosed. It is simply part of revenues under GAAP. Revenues that are above market rates because of the mandates.

    6 cents is well above market rates for wholesale power. Above wholesale prices for coal, nuclear, and many gas plants. Depending of course on gas prices.

    Variable operating costs are low for nuclear although a significant portion is fuel. Nuclear costs, especially new nuclear, is dominated by levelized capitol cost…..a fixed cost.

    And non of our discussions have considered the non dispatchable nature of wind which comes with its own unique integration costs. As the Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study demonstrated.

    Your list of low operating cost sources are conspicuously dominated by pie in the sky sources like wave and ocean current. The only significant source on that list is hydro. I agree they all have low operating cost they just don’t produce much power.

  97. Badgero, do you want me to cut and paste, and give the link, to Warren Buffett’s disclosure of his 2.2 cents per kWh? Seriously? Do you think I just make this stuff up? Facts are facts. Verifiable, published and on the internet for all to see.

    The NREL’s Western Wind and Solar Integration Study concluded that integration costs are manageable, very small, and overwhelmed by the huge savings in fuel not burned. In short, there is no problem up to 33 percent wind on the grid.

  98. Badgero, what do you mean they don’t produce much power. Hydroelectric produces almost 16 percent of the world’s power, compared to just 11.7 percent for nuclear, in 2011 per the IEA.

  99. I believe you are an educated man so I can only assume you are obfuscating what you know to be true. Subsidy from ratepayers based on above market contract rates would not be disclosed as a government subsidy since it would simply show up as above market revenues for the power produced.

    Most countries don’t have nuclear so a world wide claim is misleading. What about the US? And as I said hydro is the only significant source on your list.

    Integration costs are small only when compared to total costs associated with the transition. They are zero if wind and solar are not included. While it is technically feasible to get to about 30 percent it comes at significant cost in both additional capital cost and integration costs. Integration solutions that are fundamentally an elegant solution to a problem that should never exist in the first place. 30 percent scenario in the east costs 60 billion annually (Figure 3) and that is compared to the base case which still includes some wind. About 6 percent I believe.

  100. Roger Sowell says:
    April 24, 2014 at 6:24 pm
    @ Mario Lento on April 24, 2014 at 6:10 pm
    ++++++++++
    touche’

  101. I won’t address this comment to Mr Sowell, as he has made it clear that his discussion with me is closed. It’s unfortunate, but certainly not unique in my experience, that debates sometimes get “closed” when uncomfortable questions get asked, or evidence is requested to support assertions made.

    Mr Sowell (erroneously) labels me a “nuclear advocate” and a defender of the “French model”. At least he said I was amusing. That’s something, I suppose.

    For the record: I am not a “nuclear advocate”, and am certainly NOT a fan of the “French model”, being philosophically opposed to subsidies in the main. What I AM a fan of is the truth, and civil, evidence based argument.

    It was that which led me to instinctively question Mr Sowell’s reference to French energy being fully subsidized. It seemed inherently unlikely that the French populace were receiving free electricity, so I simply asked him for evidence to support his assertion. Again and again.

    In order to maintain civil and rigorous debate, I do of course have to quickly acknowledge and correct my own errors. I apologize to Mr Sowell, because I said that he had not provided a link or quote for an EU investigation. The blog article to which he linked clearly had it listed (I simply missed it – no excuses).

    Moving on, I believe Mr Sowell has committed a monumental howler and, as he says, closes the discussion, when he states that “a fully nationalized industry is considered fully subsidized”.

    it my be considered to the case by Mr Sowell, but it is certainly not universal. ‘Fully nationalized’ is an indication of ownership or control by the State – nothing more. I’m confident that Mr Sowell would be aware that it implies absolutely nothing about pricing policy or subsidization.

    As a case in point, I refer the reader to the Hilmer reforms and National Competition Policy* which Australia pursued in the 1990s. This policy was specifically designed to ensure pricing by nationalized industries and businesses was NOT subsidized by their State ownership – the concept of ‘competitive neutrality’ was employed.

    Indeed, the EU investigation quote Mr Sowell uses on his own blog invalidates his assertion:

    “it found that these regulated tariffs were financed AT LEAST IN PART through state resources.” (my capitals for emphasis)

    - the clear implication being that the tariffs were financed – at least in part – through other means. One presumes this would have included the consumer’s wallets. Even in Mr Sowell’s ‘French model’, fully nationalized does NOT equal fully subsidized.

    Given that this is Mr Sowell’s own hand-picked quote, I would have significant difficulty believing that he did not understand it in full. It seems that the sophistry is continuing.

    As I have said earlier in this blog, it seems increasingly likely that Mr Sowell does not want to engage on points that do not suit him (even points he made himself), and his comments should be weighed accordingly.

    * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Competition_Policy_(Australia) . I know, Thruthipedia is an atrocious citation, but I was in a hurry, and it’s all I could think of for an overview.

  102. ***
    Roger Sowell says:
    April 24, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    @ Doug Badgero, you do not know what you are talking about.
    ***

    Jeesh, how many feet can you stuff in your mouth? Who are we gonna believe regarding power-generation systems, a senior engineer working w/a nuclear plant at a major utility, or a single-issue-fanatic lawyer?

    How does the energy-density produced by fission compare to 19th century wind power? How do the footprints compare? Any competent engineer knows this and is appalled by the miniscule production capabilities and massive footprints of pinwheels compared to nuclear power.

  103. Tom Murphy says:
    April 24, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    I’m surprised at the seven day outage due to a power transformer failure,
    ————-

    You’re surprised, …. me was too.

    Almost a week without my TV or internet and nothing else to do ….. made me an unhappy camper.
    =============

    More than likely, the breaker on the affected circuit would open (trip) due to the fault. After a visual patrol of the circuit and inspection of the breaker/associated power transformer, the breaker would be closed and transformer energized. At most, there would be be 1-3 hours of interruption based mostly on the circuit length requiring patrol.
    ————-

    Do not those breakers have to “trip” for the 3rd time before they remain “off”?

    Thus a “short” caused by magnetic recording tape probably wouldn’t even cause the lights to “blink”.

  104. Doug Badgero says:
    April 24, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Subsidy from ratepayers based on above market contract rates would not be disclosed as a government subsidy since it would simply show up as above market revenues for the power produced.
    —————

    Right, ….. in the US the state’s Public Service Commission, a government entity, has the authority to “set the rate” that power generating companies can charge their customers. And in WV the PSC can change said “rate” for bout any reason they want to ….. be it a request from the power producer or to subsidize the “power costs” of a private company that requires humongous amounts of electrical power.

    Either way, it is a subsidy from the ratepayers that “simply shows up as market revenue for the power produced

    To wit:

    Corporate Giant Century Aluminum Holds West Virginia Retirees Hostage in Exchange for Cheap Power

    After reaching the agreement, Century, with the help of the retirees, managed to negotiate new favorable tax legislation with West Virginia lawmakers, in addition to a deal with the Public Service Commission of West Virginia (PSC) that would potentially save the company over half a billion dollars in energy costs at the plant over the next decade. Even after receiving these discount rates from the PSC, Century walked away from the deal in October 2012 because it was unwilling to make up any shortfalls in the rate that may have occurred over the next ten years. The company is also threatening to close a smelter in Kentucky if it cannot get reduced electric rates.

    http://truth-out.org/news/item/15108-corporate-giant-century-aluminum-holds-west-virginia-retirees-hostage-in-exchange-for-cheap-power

  105. “Samuel C Cogar says:

    “Do not those breakers have to ‘trip’ for the 3rd time before they remain ‘off’?

    “Thus a short caused by magnetic recording tape probably wouldn’t even cause the lights to ‘blink’.”

    That function is accomplished by a recloser and not the breaker or power transformer, although a recloser is technically a smart breaker. A recloser is installed on a distribution feeder to minimize the frequency of outages caused by line faults in a given area. And line faults occur more frequently on distribution feeders because of the surrounding vegetation, which also attracts birds and squirrels – other common, outage agents. Lightning is another fault source but tends to be managed via in-line arrestors – but I digress…

    When a fault occurs, the recloser opens/closes (de-energizes/energizes) rapidly for a few cycles – usually three, as mentioned. For the customer, recloser operation manifests as a momentary dimming of the lights. This operation is intended to allow the cause of the (hopefully transient) fault to clear itself before an outage is realized (e.g., the branch burns and falls clear of the line); if the fault remains after the last close, then the recloser stops the cycle in the open (de-energized) position to protect the feeder and associated equipment; this results in a customer outage.

    While distribution voltages vary across the states, as well as across the utilities, it’s typically <35 kilovolts (kV). The distribution feeder is what runs from the substation to the customer along the roadway. Officially, though, transmission voltages are 69 kV and higher, while everything below is distribution; however, many utilities regard 35 to 69 kV as sub-transmission voltage, but this is a safety distinction (the point at which protective gloves are no good) more so than an engineering distinction.

    Transmission circuits are protected by a circuit breaker. If a fault occurs on these circuits (either phase to phase or phase to ground), the breaker opens immediately to protect the power transformer. A substation supplied by such a transmission circuit is also impacted immediately. Presuming the substation is supplied by only one transmission circuit, which is rarely the case but works for this discussion, then a fault will cause an immediate customer outage for all the distribution feeders exiting the substation – a recloser has no role with these faults.

    The reason why reclosers aren’t installed on transmission circuits is the magnitude of the resulting fault current, which is significant. With transmission voltages, a separation of the switch contacts via a recloser does not always break the current flow because an electric arc forms between the contacts. While a transmission breaker can be used in conjunction with relay to form something like a recloser or an oil switch can be used in an attempt to quench the arc, the more definitive solution (from a power transformer risk/damage perspective) is to allow the breaker to function as is. As has been identified correctly in this thread, replacement of a power transformer (from scratch) takes an extended time period.

  106. Kit Blanke says:
    April 23, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Blackouts will be a good thing. Here’s why. A slow loss of generating capacity and rising costs of energy will roll back our economy. The people in California rose up and replace the Governor in 2003 after a series of blackouts due to mismanagement. The Recall was successful because enough people become uncomfortable too quickly. They couldn’t ignore the loss of power and pretend everything was rosy.

    To digress: The elite mentality is, problems are only for the poor people who deserve them. When the elites are also inconvenienced, then there is action. Now of course, everyone living in a $1 million house actually worth about $90,000 in the Bay Area thinks they are part of the elite. They spend 90% of a 6 figure income on housing, utilities, food, and going to work and have maybe 10% left over to pay their credit card bills. They used to refi to buy their new Lexus. So now they are driving 6 year old Lexi. Oh, wait, mortgage lending is getting back to its old ways again…. Time to refi and get a new, Mercedes this time? Wow, isn’t Obama great?

    Now back to our show: So if we do have blackouts, then there should be a strong reaction from the people. Based on the California experience, that will goad people into action. The alternative is a slow erosion of confidence in what we call free enterprise that isn’t such a thing anymore. The system is corrupt, bureaucratized, and gamed in favor of the existing power structure, those funding re-election campaigns, and going along with the party program. As the economy winds down, and people will become more desperate. More power will be asked for and given to further “fix” things. The reality is, problems will only get worse when government is involved, and freedom is lost progressively (word chosen on purpose).

    If we are to take action, what should it be? A nationwide Bundy rebellion? I hope not. We could change it all overnight this year by electing anyone not an incumbent or bought and paid for by one of the major parties already. No corrupt union hacks either. And no one looking for payback for their supposed oppression. We need citizens to step up who would work for all of the people. And we need a clear plan they can get behind. This group could take a stab at a realistic energy policy which would be the basis of a profound economic turnaround. It all starts with energy, my friends.

    Anyone demonizing CO2 is in league with the hopeful new wannabe slave masters.

  107. “RS says:
    April 23, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Buy a diesel whole house or business generator.
    It’s what they do in the third world.”

    Tell me more. The cost of propane for my house furnace here in the Canadian Rockies doubled in January to $1/L, that’s about a CD$1600 bill to fill a 500gal(US) tank. Or $15-$20 per day to heat a 3500sq. ft. house here for six months.

    Diesel fuel for cars is running about $1.50/L at the pumps. So I’m having trouble imagining how running a generator on diesel could come out cheaper. Of course, Canadian diesel prices are higher than in the US because our oil has to be sent to US refineries (I’m told) to be turned into diesel, before being shipped back here. Does that make us a “fourth world” country?

    At present, I’ve shut down my furnace awaiting a propane price drop predicted for April but postponed to May (for now). Normally I don’t turn it off until May. I use baseboard heaters to crank my bedroom temperature up to 14C at night. I haven’t done detailed calculations, but I’m pretty sure it’s cheaper, even at about 10cents/KwHr, than running the furnace and its 3/4HP fan.

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