Winter Exposes the Cracks in the Nation’s Energy System
The massive cold wave that rolled over the nation’s heartland did more than leave millions shivering in the dark. It also exposed a critical problem with our electric power grid.
It’s a mess that struggles to function even during periods of fair weather. And those plans to electrify everything? That could put us in an even more perilous situation.
Writing in Forbes, Robert Brice notes:
This blizzard proves that attempting to electrify everything would be the opposite of anti-fragile. Rather than make our networks and critical systems more resilient and less vulnerable to disruptions caused by extreme weather, bad actors, falling trees, or simple negligence, electrifying everything would concentrate our dependence on a single network, the electric grid, and in doing so make nearly every aspect of our society prone to catastrophic failure if — or rather, when — a widespread or extended blackout occurs.
This blizzard proves that we have not been taking our energy security seriously enough. The concept of energy security has many aspects. But the most fundamental one is that we all have enough reliable and affordable energy (of whatever type) so that we don’t freeze to death during cold spells like the one now wreaking havoc across the continent.
Experts have warned for years that the nation’s electric grid was rickety, and that power outages were becoming more common across the country. A power distribution network that can stand up to bad weather is essential. Without it, diversified energy production, never mind renewable-only sources — is meaningless.
Image Credit: Jeff Turner from Santa Clarita, CA, United States [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]