With the brutal summer heat having had its way with a good portion of the country, one has to ask the question about the power grids that run from shore to shore. How many times have the grid failed to meet extraordinary demands due to the lack of needed maintenance and delayed or canceled power generation projects? Far too often in my opinion.
Despite the delusions and best efforts of the We-Can-Meet-All-Of-Our-Energy-Needs-If-We-Just-Conserve groups, conservation is only a stop-gap measure, buying us a little time. Energy demand keeps going up, not because people are ever more wasteful or ignorant of energy efficiency, but because there are more and more people here and elsewhere in the world every day. Our modern civilization requires energy in ever increasing amounts to meet the demands of a growing population and more energy intensive businesses and industries.
It doesn't help that even clean energy technologies much touted by environmentalists are being blocked by many of those same environmentalists. We've heard of wind farm projects being delayed through means legal and illegal in an effort to prevent “Big Wind” from installing wind turbines on hillsides, ridges, and mountainsides.
Doug at GraniteGrok has posted about the anti-Big Wind wackos on more than one occasion, blocking the construction of electrical generation capacity for no other reason than a group of investor got together to build an eco-friendly free-energy means to generate much needed electricity. I don't know about you, but I'm not really sure what these folks mean by “Big Wind.” Is it anything like “Big Oil?” Is there a wind turbine equivalent to Exxon-Mobil out there that we're unaware of?
Back in April I asked the question “Is the New England power grid on the verge of breaking down?” This is a question that most people ask only when it is strained to the breaking point, as it has been during this last wave of very hot and humid weather. Otherwise they don't think about it. That is a mistake. And it's not just New England that's in this position.
We need new power generation stations, new power distribution systems, and upgrades to existing systems to meet future needs. But it seems that we have fallen victim to what I call The California Syndrome a.k.a. BANANA – Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone. People want the power but they don't want to build the systems necessary to make it possible. Of course these are the first people to scream about lack of power when overloads or insufficient supply force the utilities to start load shedding (blackouts) in order to preserve what systems they do have. You can't have it both ways.
Either we build new power plants and distribution systems or we can count on quickly becoming a Third World nation when our economy grinds to halt because there's not enough electricity to keep it running.