It’s A Question Of Power

by Jay Winer

We’ve all seen our legislators attempting to appear concerned by calling in BGE to explain how it reacted to our last big storm and all the outages we all suffered through.  Maybe if the Public Service Commission turned down BGE for passing along the cost of power restoration from our big storms, there would be a financial incentive to bury wires. Fewer wires to come down would mean fewer outages.

BGE claims the cost of burying wires is $3Million per mile. There’s got to be a better way to deal with the problem of constant and prolonged storm outages, until a new Edison can invent a better way to distribute electricity. Smart meters: Really? BGE has a plan, the cost of which will be passed on to customers to install digital meters that can be read remotely. What if there’s no power to the meter? Hello? What’s smart about staffing and paying for tree cutting that amounts to nothing when our newest storm “Derecho” is added to our annual hurricane visits? What’s smart about any of this?

Communication and electricity via poles and wires has been around since around 1840. How far have we come in every other aspect of technology? We can bury fiber optic cable for phone and internet all over the place, but not power. All our new “cyber” age technology will not work without a reliable power source.

Where did the Trillions in “stimulus” funding go?  Did we really see much improvement to outdated roads and bridges? We can get to those when we change over to more manufacturing to create more jobs. What about a national program to update the power grid and make it safe- really safe. Talk about new jobs!

Oh, and let’s not forget to add up the cost of the lost business, work time and other economic loss, including taxes to our beloved State from all this loss activity. Well, I guess there’s always higher sales taxes from customers having to re-stock refrigerators at least once and from all that extra diesel fuel for generators.

Is this all solvable and even affordable?  I’m not smart enough to know how to fix each element, but something tells me, yes!

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6 Responses to It’s A Question Of Power

  1. John says:

    Something has to come along that renders the utility companies obsolete. It would be something that would completely power your home without any external sources of energy needed.

    Think along the lines of solar panels. Now, I’m not saying they’re the answer but it’s an example of a step towards self sufficiency.

    I’m not a big fan of donning the tin foil hat, but imagine being scientist and coming up with a work-able model for people to power their own homes, rending all utility companies including companies that buy power obsolete. Think that scientist is gonna get funding?

  2. MAW says:

    Dont cry about the problems Jay. Come up with answers.

    Also answer this question. Who is going to pay for the connection to each home or business that is fed overhead? My power works fine as it does now. I dont want to be forced to pay for something that doesnt need to be fixed. I, and most people around cant afford that.

    What about the liability of doing installation. And you’re complaining about BGE installing smart meters? Most everything would have to be replaced from the main panel in the house, out to the meter, then out to the street. Good lord I would hate to insure the power companies when they are doing this.

    $3 million dollars a mile? I believe it.

  3. Jeff Andrade says:

    “I’m not sure how difference the business model makes. BGE’s status as a “natural monopoly” — just like pretty much everywhere else in the country — does not seem to affect the reliability of our electrical supply. Private, for-profit utilities heavily regulated by government; utilities owned by local government, or cooperatively owned utilities like those in rural areas, don’t seem to make much difference. Energy supplier choice gives some competition on the commodity part of our home energy, but the cost savings and other benefits to consumers are somewhat nominal. And the one public utility where we saw some initial benefits from deregulation and breaking up monopolies – telecommunications – in turn resulted in merger pressure to buy out competitors rather than compete with them and that has created companies that are now bigger than ever. So as Jay points out, I too am not smart enough to know how to fix all this, but there has got to be better solutions on the engineering side to ensure reliable electricity distribution that can (pardon the pun) weather any storm. …”

  4. John says:

    “Why change the perfect business model. While there’s a choice in energy suppliers there is no choice for BG&E to deliver the power and charge their fixed fees. If people are without power then they’re without power. There is and can never be any competing company to deliver it. And if it costs too much to restore power then they simply raise the fees. Why change. I also believe there are caps in place on how much BG&E can make regarding profit since they’re a public utility, so there’s no real incentive.”

  5. Jeff Andrade says:

    “I think Jay’s got a point in that as areas become increasingly urbanized it makes sense to put power lines underground to better deal with the weather-related power outages. In fact, the US lags behind most industrialized countries in underground power lines and overhead transmission and distribution lines are unsightly to many. But as with that old adage about the grass being greener on the other side, they are not without down sides besides cost issues. They can’t deal with overloads and demand surge as well, they have more limited capacity, and if there is a failure, it generally takes longer to locate and fix it. And just like a dummy driver can take out a utility pole, a dummy digging with a Bobcat where they aren’t supposed to can take out power for miles around. I’m also puzzled at how overhead and underground lines are integrated together around here. We have all underground distribution lines within Piney Orchard, but I have experienced more frequent and longer power outages here than in any other place where I have ever lived. I think the best solution for many is to have a safe, backup generator solution that can keep the basic home systems working in the event of an extended loss of power. I’d rather see the politicians and utilities focused on trying to make this option more affordable than costly smart meters and new mandates on utilities.”

  6. Brian C. says:

    Love it Jay …just love it.

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