Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain, Pirate’s Cove, The Daley Gator and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!  And on this, our first post of the new year, we’d like to wish a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous 2023 to everyone reading these virtual pages.

Now then:  In some parts of the country, rolling blackouts are now the “new normal.”  Excerpt:

On Christmas Eve, 2022, in North Carolina, something happened that had never happened before in living memory. People across the state were alerted by their power company, Duke Energy, that there would be rolling blackouts in the aftermath of a severe (but “not exceedingly rare”) winter wind storm. At least 12 other states received similar and previously unheard-of warnings.

Before, rolling blackouts were a California problem, then they also became a Texas problem. Blackouts are spreading faster than even Imperial College London modelers would find believable.

Duke was still warning North Carolina customers of potential blackouts two days later on Monday the 26th, when people would be returning to work. At this point there was nothing unusual at all in the weather, except that it was colder than normal. The only thing unusual was Duke’s warning, in combination with its thanking customers for conserving enough energy to avoid blackouts on Christmas Day.

It already seems as if people are being conditioned to expect talk of rolling blackouts whenever the weather outside seems frightful.

To be very clear: rolling blackouts are not now, nor have they been, normal in the US. Therefore, having to expect rolling blackouts going forward would be abnormal. Nevertheless, as utility providers and power grid monitors have recently warned, the more grids are saddled with intermittent, unreliable wind and solar facilities, the more unreliable they are becoming. They’re more prone to capacity shortfalls and blackouts.

Bear in mind that we aren’t talking about outages due to weather or some other natural occurrence – an instance that isn’t unusual here in our rural Alaska home, where power lines are still on overhead poles and wind and snow are frequently an issue with the lines.  No, this is different; these are rolling blackouts necessitated by inadequate generation and an outdated, inefficient grid.

Feature, or bug?

There are those who have no real problem with rolling blackouts – those who think we, as a nation, use too much energy and think we should be forced to use less.  In other words, to lower our standard of living.  But I think a big part of the problem is simple inaction, by several different levels of government.  Adding to the generation capacity or updating the power grids is subject to massive regulation and a huge burden of government ‘oversight,’ and that is, I think, a big part of the problem.

Case in point:  Look into why the United States isn’t seeing a new nuclear power plant opened every week or so.  We could do it; it’s just that we aren’t doing it.  And there’s a reason we aren’t.