Peak Oil posits that energy will get more expensive, that demand will outpace the supplies of oil and other energy sources. They call this the end of cheap energy, and see the result as partly depriving the economy, and people, of petroleum products, but more immediately, pricing public utility electricity and other economic commodities outside the reach of the average American.
More than half of Americans, according to Peak Oil, will be unable to pay for utilities, by 2012.
Is the electric grid about to shatter?
We all know about what ice storms do to electric power. In places where the power lines are still strung on poles, and around trees, the lines come down. Or a car knocks a utility pole over. Or a squirrel gets fried in a substation and lights go out for several blocks.
Or there are too many air conditioners running, and people experience “brown outs” as the voltage on the line falls when over-demand for the energy available. Or the power company pulls a “rolling blackout” – when the power company deliberately cuts off power to a segment of their customers. Then turns it on as they turn off another segment.
Stacking another layer on a house of cards
There are experimental installations in Ohio for transmitting broadband Internet hookups over the power grid. Talk and technology is progressing for “smart meters” – meters that charge different rates according to varying schedules. And can turn off your power if the meter “gets the signal”. Or when your neighbor opens his garage door?
Increased exposure to risk of failure of the grid.
Wired covers a story from the Wall Street Journal, about foreign adversaries targeting the electric utilities.
Peak oil advocate focus on surviving without the utility grid. And they want to develop local sources of food and expertise.
Perhaps an intermediate step would be to return to regional and local sources of power, not just personal solar panels.
Just as chickens in California and sheep in Wyoming won’t feed anyone, if the cost of getting them to hungry people is too high for the hungry people to afford, I am not real happy about losing power in Oklahoma so that California air conditioners keep running.
I have nothing against California, I lived there from 1984 to 1989. But even then they were making stupid choices, legislating away their ability to live on the water available, the ability to generate the power they consume, or to raise the food they eat.
Southern California is merely one of the best recognized regions for making foolish energy and food choices. Most cities require vast regions to supply food for their people, power for residences, commerce, and industry, and often rely on tourism for enough revenue to support themselves.
i drive my tractor in pearls…, writing at My Modern Country Home, takes pride in the independence of the Oklahoma state constitution. I wonder – is she comfortable that Oklahoma could supply enough energy for Oklahoman use, if the national grid came apart?