Blackouts for Christmas, a sick grid gift


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Many people got a blackout for Christmas. Or for Christmas Eve Day. Or even worse the Night Before Christmas, when it was zero at my place. But I was lucky as my 8 hour blackout was Friday, so all I lost for Christmas was phone and Internet. But I had already received the four day blackout the Thursday-Sunday a week before. Geez!

Oh but I also got an actual Christmas gift. An email from my power company (if you can still call them that) with this holiday request: “Please Conserve Energy During the Extreme Cold”.

How much I wondered? No Christmas dinner? No holiday lights? Apparently so, for this is (part of) what they said:

“Here are some simple ways you can reduce energy use:

–Turn off non-essential appliances, equipment and electric lights – including HOLIDAY LIGHTS – that you do not need or are not using.

— Postpone using major electric household appliances, such as STOVES, dishwashers and clothes dryers.”

No lights, no stove, no Christmas.

On a semantic note the relevant definition of “conserve” is “To prevent the wasteful or harmful overuse of (a resource)”. Doing without lights and food to prevent blacking out is not conservation. It is painful abstinence, especially at Christmas.

As I have said before, America’s grid is sick and getting sicker. See my https://www.cfact.org/2022/11/29/save-americas-grid/.

But I am going to let someone else rant about it this time, a blogger I just discovered named Mike Smith. He is an award winning meteorologist who has also noticed that replacing reliable power with unreliable power makes power unreliable.

Here is part of Smith’s Saturday post, titled simply “Unfortunate Vindication”.

“Those of us who have been pleading that politicians listen to our factual presentations that ‘renewables’ were making the grid unreliable have been — unfortunately! — hugely vindicated today. It gives me no pleasure to state this.

When the grid is so fragile that turning on stadium lights (the delayed kickoff of the Titans game in Nashville this afternoon) risks crashing the system, it is all proof that is needed: America’s power grid is crumbling to third-world status. There is no quick fix because more wind farms are being erected every day. The next snow, just like this last, will cover existing and future solar panels rendering them useless in winter’s cold.

I had correspondence with a reporter this afternoon. She indicated the people she spoke to were surprised about the electrical issues from the cold wave. I directed her to my December 13 cold wave forecast. That’s ten days advance notice!”

Se his http://www.mikesmithenterprisesblog.com/2022/12/unfortunate-vindication.html

He is right about the forecast. I watched my NWS Christmas Eve forecast hover around zero for over a week. They too warned of power outages.

It is also interesting that my humbug email was for all of the massive PJM Interconnection, America’s biggest Independent System Operator. I had watched, and written, with some detachment when California, Texas, New England and the Midwest were repeatedly warned about looming blackouts. But as they say here in the West Virginia mountains, what goes around comes around.

The meager good news here is that PJM includes the fantasyland of Washington DC and the surrounding living quarters for our top federal fools, who let this happen. How’s that “transition” to raw turkey in the dark working out for you?

However, like many astute policy analysts Mike Smith misses an important hidden term in the equation of grid failure. I call it the silence of the power engineers. The utilities know perfectly well that the grid is going to hell. But they are making a fortune restocking their asset base with billion dollar renewable projects. See my https://www.cfact.org/2022/06/02/silence-of-the-power-engineers-nerc-does-nothing/.

But Smith’s solution is right over target (so will get lots of flak):

“Congress and state legislators: are you paying attention? It is past time for an embargo on shutting down fossil fuel electric generation (which was done earlier this week) units. We need a crash program to bring more fossil fuels online until nuclear can be built.”

Here’s to making America’s Christmas bright.

  • David Wojick

    David Wojick, Ph.D. is an independent analyst working at the intersection of science, technology and policy. For origins see http://www.stemed.info/engineer_tackles_confusion.html For over 100 prior articles for CFACT see http://www.cfact.org/author/david-wojick-ph-d/ Available for confidential research and consulting.

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