Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Ridiculous Electric Power Industry

Speaking of dinosaurs (see our last post, on the U.S. auto industry), what about the U.S. electric generating utilities?

Here's an article about a ridiculous report they have commissioned contending that the electric grid--the transmission wires that carry electricity to our homes and businesses--is so fragile it will collapse if much more solar and windpower is added to the system.

There are some utilities--Duke Energy in North Carolina, for example--that have progressive, innovative CEO's who see a way to clean alternative energy. But they are the exception. Most of them are governed by old-line executives addicted to coal because they are wed to outdated models of both electricity supply and demand.

In any event, the notion that the transmission grid--built by these same clowns--can't handle wind and solar (but can handle new coal-fired plants) is a bunch of hooey. Pretty soon these guys will have their hands out for a "bailout" of the grid. They should be slapped instead.

1 comment:

Jake said...

I basically agree that the grid can handle clean energy, but wind and solar due to present challenges. Solar provides peak energy during the day, and wind generally has a peak as well, with a much smaller amount the rest of the time. Management of the entire system must account for these effects, and "dinosaur" power would prefer they don't deal with it. Coal, and other "traditional" power sources can be scaled up and down due to demand without much problem, wind and solar add new variables to the management of the system.