Monday, August 12, 2013

Electricity: Spend Wisely Not Widely

The White House just issued a report on the power system in the US and the assumption that climate change will bring more sever weather and that Government must do something massive to assure that power is not interrupted by the weather.
The report states:

Smart grid investments made by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) in some of the states hit by Sandy lessened the impact for thousands of electric customers. For example, In Philadelphia, roughly 186,000 smart meters were up and running by the time Sandy hit. The Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO) estimated that about 50,000 customers experienced shorter outages due to its new smart grid systems, which also included upgrades to its Outage Management System (OMS). PECO observed more than 4,000 instances where smart meters were able to remotely determine when power was restored, saving PECO and its customers time and money.

Frankly the most significant part of the problem is not the grid, it is the last 500 feet. Sandy did not hit Philly. It his the New Jersey Shore from Island Beach north to Staten Island in New York Harbor. The loss of power was dominated by down local trees. Does a smart grid solve this problem, most likely not. Unless we rebuild the system to be multiply redundant, which is foolish.

What is the problem for 90% or more of the outages. Trees, like the example above, which have not been fixed. Foot after foot of line is covered by fragile branches. So why not cut them? Simple, the environmental groups want to keep the "green" look. So they wait until Mother Nature "cuts" the tree and we all lose power for a week!
Tree after tree should be trimmed or removed. Before we lose power, and the costs are orders of magnitude higher. You do not need a grid to solve this problem, just a saw and some common sense.

But I forgot who we have in Washington. Sorry, we will just waste the money and still lose power. Who or what will we blame the next time?