10-29-2008, 02:37 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Remember the 8-14-03 blackout? Expect more
something else Michael C. Ruppert predicted... it's all quite tied together, and not so nicely, either... it's just a blog, so be forewarned... regardless, i buy most of it, based on the map provided 4-5 years ago...
THE COMING ELECTRICITY CRISIS
by Byron W. King
OK, so I don't have a copy of the Sunday business section from next March. But I think I know what at least one major issue will be within the next 24 months. The headlines will scream, "Power Failures, Price Spikes Plague Northeast U.S." And the same thing will also hit the Western U.S. And the Southeastern U.S. And parts of the Midwest. They sure did not talk about power failures in the presidential debates, did they? I don't know why not. All the insiders know about it. Indeed, power failures and price spikes are baked into the national economic cake. People who follow these things are quite sure of it. It's just a question of when, exactly, the lights will start to flicker.
We already had one experience with a regional blackout. Do you remember the power failure of Aug. 14, 2003? Almost the entire Northeast U.S. went dark, except it occurred in the middle of the day. The effects were immediate on over 50 million people in the U.S. and Canada. Skyscrapers just stopped working - no elevators, no lights, no water, no nothing. Hospital operating rooms went dark. Traffic signals stopped functioning and people were in the midst of instant gridlock. If you ran out of gas, there was no power for the pumps at the gas station. Refrigerators stopped humming and large amounts of food spoiled. Rail systems stopped running - from streetcars in Toronto to subways in New York and Amtrak and freight trains in the middle of nowhere. FAA flight controllers had to communicate with airborne pilots via battery-powered walkie-talkies. Sewage systems shut down, and a lot of you-know-what backed up in many low-lying areas.
Looking back, the utility companies got the power back up and running, right? And the experts investigated the origins of the problem, right? The people who know all about power grids fixed the problem, right? It could not happen again, right? The U.S. power grid has ample electricity-generating capacity, right? And there's plenty of transmission to move power from one region to another, right?
Earlier this week, I attended a privately sponsored presentation on U.S. energy policy. The main speaker was a senior faculty member from Carnegie Mellon University. This guy has been "doing electricity" for about 40 years or so. He has written reports for the National Academy of Sciences. When the people at the U.S. Department of Energy have a question about electricity, they call this CMU professor. The news is not good. In 2007, there were about 144 new coal-fired power plants on the drawing boards of the U.S. energy utilities. But, said the professor, "We will probably build none of them." Indeed, "The electric industry in the U.S. is in terrible shape," said the CMU man. So we should expect local and regional brownouts and blackouts to become common occurrences "within five years." But the first isolated instances of brownout and blackout will hit us much sooner than that.
Why is there such a gloomy forecast? Because essentially, the deregulation of the 1990s was botched. According to the CMU electricity expert, botched deregulation "slowed investment, raised prices and led to more and more uncertainty." So now few utilities or their executives want to take political, regulatory, technical or financial risks. Hence, the entire long-range planning cycle has broken down. It's almost impossible to decide what to build, and at what scale. Costs are exploding, particularly for new construction. It's safe to say that most power plant construction cost projections have doubled within the past 18 months. The prospect of fast-changing environmental regulations also adds to the uncertainty. No one wants to build a power plant and learn in five or 10 years or so that environmental regulations are going to shut it down.