Thursday, August 2, 2012



Just as frost is a harbinger of winter, the collapse of India's main electric power grid this week could be the harbinger of electric power grids collapsing throughout the rest of the World, even our own here in the USA. 

Since my youth, some seventy seven years ago, reliable electric supply has been a given without any questions. As I understand it, our national power grid has been cobbled together over time by separate entities each interested in maximizing their own profits. It has worked fairly well up to now but brown outs are on the rise, though kept regional, they too may be a harbinger of things yet to come to our local. Having Limerick in our back yard has little to do with us getting uninterrupted electric power if demand somewhere exceeds generation and transmission capacity of the grid. Brown outs are a determination of the operators of the grid who pick and choose which region gets cut off from power and for how long so the system as a whole doesn't crash as it did in India.

If not in the near future, when ? When will we in the USA feel the crippling effects of extreme heat which causes the public to demand an ever increasing amount of air conditioning no matter if the federal government asks for public conservation ?

Our electric power grid is a huge, complex amalgamation of entities which, unlike banks, isn't too big to fail. It was not built as a one unified engineered system but was built incrementally over many years as our country expanded needing electric power to facilitate new growth.

A chill ran up my back when I saw the ongoing reports about India's grid problem knowing full well other national systems could face their own electric grid problems even ours. Most Americans now living have throughout their life taken electric for granted thinking it will react by just clicking a switch. The question for our leaders must be : Is uninterrupted electric service a right guaranteed by our federal government since the government is the ultimate regulator of power in the USA ? 

Ronald C. Downie

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