Sunday, January 14, 2007

Is the Electrical Grid Breaking Down?

An article on the electrical grid, and it's vulnerability to various stressors. This has implications for future transmission of electricity, regardless of how it is generated.

An important point:

In August 2003, a tree branch in Ohio caused the largest blackout in North America's history, for a fairly simple reason: the electrical grid is so complex, and running so close to capacity, that even small problems can cascade into catastrophic breakdowns. As with most problems of complexity beyond the point of diminishing returns, the question of what finally pushed the system over the edge is much less important than the question of what made the system of complex that it became vulnerable to something so small in the first place.


The North Coast said...

St. Louis is now in the middle of it's THIRD major outage in the past 8 months. My mother is without power, along with 100,000 other people in that area, in addition to yet another 100,000 in Springfield MO.

The nationwide grid is in abominable condition. Get ready for more major outages and rolling blackouts. Many people believe that the grid is not being maintained because the utilities see no future in it and are not investing in it.

To some, it is merely malfeasance on the part of the utility holding companies, whose execs would rather take the capital home with them in the form of multimillion dollar salaries and bonuses. That surely plays a part.

To me, it is one more symptom that we are in the zone of Kunstler's Long Emergency.

Read his Clusterfuck Nation column if you get a chance.

Paradise said...

Thank you for this blog, Kheris. You are the only Chicago bloggger who is working to raise awareness on the Peak Oil issue, as opposed to the Global Warming issue, which is seperate, though somewhat related.

People would rather read and talk about "the environment" than face the core truth that we are running out of the resources necessary to keep our society a civilization. The focus on issues purely environmental is a start, but it sidesteps the truth and lets people delude themselves into thinking that hybrid cars and alternative fuels will do the trick.

Also, the environmental movement in this country is a major obstruction to doing the things we need to do to maintain our basic tech amenities in the next ten years, like building more nuclear plants, which additionally cost a lot of money and will surely entail rate hikes.

I'll give ComEd the rate hike they want if they set to work on more nukes.

The focus on alternative fuels and recycling here and there; and on hybrid cars and reducing emissions is 'feel-good' talk.

Talking about a 30% reduction in fuel usage in the next 10 years does NOT feel good, not at all.

By the way, I posted the above comment under my blog name, more or less by accident.

Kheris said...

Thanks for the kind words.