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Friday, September 9, 2011

San Diego lost power (and so will you)

As I write this San Diego is without grid power. Early reports point to transmission line problems.


The whole transmission grid is a problem. It’s really a crappy way to power anything. Two thirds of the power transmitted through the grid is lost. Not really an efficient system, isn’t it?
It might have made some sort of sense when the idea of electrifying the country was a new idea. Even back then, there were those questioned the whole set up.

When does throwing 2/3 of anything make sense? You can afford to do that with electricity under a few circumstances. If the electricity is really really inexpensive to generate, it might not matter if you lose a lot of it along the way. Another way it makes sense is if someone else is paying the bills. That someone else is the rate payer -you, that is. The cost is just passed along.

Power is getting more expensive. That’s no surprise if you’ve been paying electric bills. Transmission is also getting more expensive. There’ s a huge amount of materials tied up in grid infrastructure. The price of those materials has gone up fairly high. Stories appear almost every week about local power outages caused by metal thieves. Does that sound like a secure system to you?

So what have we got here? An wasteful system that throws away 2/3 of mostly non-renewable fuel. It’s transmitted through an aging and stressed network that has growing scrap value making theft profitable. It’s unreliable and expensive. There’s also incentives for big business and government to keep the old grid monster alive. Big business controls the power and government rakes in tax money.

Is it any wonder there’s almost no support for home generated power? I paid one time for my solar electric system. Since I was working on my own house, I didn’t need an electrician and could do all the work myself. (legal in NH, your mileage may vary) No monthly check is sent away to a big company for that solar electric power. The government can’t collect any taxes on it.

Is it any wonder the government has minuscule support for alternative energy and huge support for the old fashioned non-renewables? Follow the money. Follow the power -electric and political.

Can you afford to support the old way of doing things? Doesn’t it make sense to have at least some home power capability? Start small and build on it. Instead of stringing materials across the countryside with huge power lines and transformers, use less material, and wire up individual houses.

1.7 million people in San Diego might agree with me -if only they had power and could read my blog.



  1. This past February, we got a lesson in how much we depend on electricity by experiencing a brown out purposely done during a really cold cold spell. Our transformer happened to kick the bucket when lit up again - took them 3 days to fix it. We were lucky it was cold at the time - July or August, we'd have had their heads on a pike! :^)

    The grid system someday will crater, we just have too many people depending on it.

  2. Did you know that Texas has its own grid? Only state that does.

  3. Yes I did. It's also one of the big wind power areas.

  4. The grid is old, overloaded and unstable. I predict power outages will become more and more common and few people can live without it for just a few days. Down here in Florida everything is electric so trying to heat a can of soup can't be done, most everyone eating it cold. Forget going to McDonalds, their power will be out also. Except for the prepared, there will be a lot of cranky people when the power is out a week a month.