Conspiracy Theorist

Another power grid crisis

By: Mark Luedtke

It happens every year. It either gets hot, cold or the wind blows, and Big Power bigwigs warn the electric grid is overloaded and consumers must conserve power. During the recent cold snap, the Dayton Daily News published a typical warning: “The arctic cold snap that’s frozen the region is straining the electric grid, prompting a warning to the public this morning from grid operator PJM that ratepayers should conserve energy now.”

PJM Interconnection is the regional transmission organization for our part of the U.S. power grid. Funny how weather is always blamed for these crises, never the electric companies’ vulnerability to weather events that occur regularly. For example, this cold snap was the coldest in 20 years. That means it was at least this cold 20 years ago. Yet, the power grid is still threatened unless consumers sacrifice by restricting their use of electricity.

Proving my point, the DDN threatened, “‘The situation requires customers to conserve energy now so that any serious problems in delivering power can be avoided,’ [Michael Kormos, PJM executive vice president of operations] said. ‘As a last resort, PJM could require rolling blackouts for short periods of time,’ Kormos added.” Selfish consumers must suffer or Big Power bigwigs will cut their power completely and freeze them to death.

My dad was a lineman for the county, literally. For Butler Rural Electric. He used to go on call at night when transformers blew, but rarely did the grid suffer major outages while I was growing up. Now, they’re commonplace. Even during the blizzard of 1977 that dumped 14 inches of snow in Butler Country, he spent more time near Toledo fixing their power outages than fixing local problems. The power grid today is worse than when I grew up.

Imagine a Martian had observed the advance of civilization since the end of the 19th century. He would have noted the invention of the automobile in 1878, the first power lines strung from Niagara Falls in 1895 and the invention of the airplane in 1903. These primitive technologies were limited and vulnerable to environmental conditions, so over the years, entrepreneurs improved the automobiles and airplanes to the point where they bear little resemblance to the originals.

But power transmission hardly changed. Power companies still string fragile wires from giant toothpicks which are ridiculously vulnerable to wind, trees, snow, ice, flood and automobiles. When something happens to the grid, power companies always blame the environment, never their primitive technology. For example, during the cold snap the DDN reported: “The extreme weather conditions caused some scattered power outages in Southwest Ohio and the Miami Valley.” It continued, “High winds and subsequent downed trees were the main reason for the outages. At the peak, nearly 11,000 customers were without power, DP&L officials said.” It’s almost always weather, but sometimes it’s cars. A number of power poles were knocked down in accidents during the cold snap.

A hundred years of civilization advance is powered by electricity, yet the technology to deliver it has hardly changed since its invention. The power grid is absurdly vulnerable to the weather, much like our hunter/gatherer ancestors were before they learned to build shelters. Our Martian observer must think we’re insane. Entrepreneurs tremendously improved cars, airplanes, computers, telephones, etc., but nobody has improved the most important system that powers modern civilization.

The reason for this bizarre situation is obvious: cars, planes, computers, telephones, etc. are developed and traded in a competitive marketplace in the private sector. The self-interest of producers, driven by the profit motive to surpass the competition, advances civilization. Power companies are fascist monopolies, created, protected and controlled by government, which creates all monopolies. The owners of power companies have no competition, and their customers are captives, so they have no incentive to innovate. Since innovation costs money and incurs risk, they don’t innovate.

Gennady Stolyarov II explained on mises.org this socialist debacle is designed “to prevent ‘burdensome competition’ among utilities in a given area.” What a joke. Like monopolies are a good thing. Competition and voluntary exchange advance civilization. Coercion retards it.

The U.S. power grid – once the envy of the world – is now the laughingstock. Mac Slavo explained on lewrockwell.com even the government knows its power grid is a disaster waiting to happen: “Former DHS head Janet Napolitano, in a letter to her successor, advised that ‘a massive and serious cyber attack’ on the U.S. Homeland is imminent and a ‘natural disaster – the likes of which the nation has never seen – is also likely on its way.’ This was followed up by a comment from House Homeland Security Committee senior member Yvette Clarke (D-NY) who noted, ‘the likelihood of a severe geo-magnetic event capable of crippling our electric grid is 100 percent.’”

It was insane to surrender control of the power grid to the most corrupt organization ever created. Government control of it kills people and, if allowed to continue, will collapse civilization. We need a truly free market power grid that will revolutionize it, increasing supply and making it resistant to weather, natural disasters and terrorist attacks, not to mention less expensive, now.

 The views and opinions expressed in Conspiracy Theorist are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes only.

 Mark Luedtke is an electrical engineer with a degree from the University of Cincinnati and currently works for a Dayton attorney. He can be reached at MarkLuedtke@DaytonCityPaper.com.

 

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