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View Diary: Home-made self-sufficiency in West Virginia town offers a solar model adaptable nationwide (148 comments)

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  •  You make valid points but the reality on the grid (0+ / 0-)

    today is increasing hostility to rate increases tied to subsidies.  In May and June electricity in the area served by Bonneville and its wholesale customers is essentially free, but the utilities have to buy wind and solar capacity while the Columbia water goes over the dams.  We have a lot to learn from the experience in the UK and Germany.  Wind and solar (especially solar/thermal) will be important in the long run but we need realistic assumptions.

    Where are we, now that we need us most?

    by Frank Knarf on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 07:03:21 PM PST

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    •  Irrational is the (12+ / 0-)

      word I'd use to describe the attitude that's developed towards FITs.  Deployed effectively, FITs result in substantial cost savings.  The point you make about the Northwest and dams points to the need for a better grid.  As it stands now there are Path 65 and the link from New England to Quebec but there needs to a more complete system of HVDC lines that can shift power around the country.  For one thing, this allows for renewable to be balanced across regions reducing variability.  For another, it stops the absurdity that you mention at dams in the Pacific Northwest.  However, hydro penetration in the rest of the country is no where near that in the Northwest, so it's a regional issue. Nonetheless, adding pumped storage capacity throughout the country, the potential to add another 12,000 MW of capacity through out the country exists in so called dumb dams.  That's the equivalent of 15-30 medium size coal plants.  

      Integrating renewables means finding ways to balance loads. Short term nationalization of the electrical grid for restructuring and an eventual IPO could do a lot of good.  That's what the Spanish did in the 1980s and it helped build the infrastructure needed to integrate renewables into the mix. They eventually privatized the company as a monopoly grid operator (including residential transmission, so there's a single transmission company) that's prohibited from having any utility with more than a 5% stake.

      by ManfromMiddletown on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 07:35:19 PM PST

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      •  Amen on the grid. (8+ / 0-)

        I began my career working on power line corridor suitability studies back in the early 70's.  Maybe some clever politician can energize (pardon the pun) the public to support new distribution infrastructure by talking up the "National Defense Electrical Transmission System".

        Where are we, now that we need us most?

        by Frank Knarf on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 07:47:25 PM PST

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        •  I'd be very (4+ / 0-)

          interested to know the viability of using existing transportation corridors (interstate highways and rail lines) for HVDC lines.  Both are already limited access, and I wonder if there's the potential to shift petroleum usage to electric.  The environmental case isn't really strong, but there's a national security case to be made about economic continuity in the wake of any sort of major supply cut.

          by ManfromMiddletown on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:15:56 PM PST

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          •  there's also a natsec issue re. the "smart" grid. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Frank Knarf, elfling

            The "smart" grid as presently being designed & promoted, is a national security risk for cyberattack waiting to happen.  Huge potential disaster.  Cybersecurity people are freaking out over the level of risk that's being incurred blindly.

            Bottom line is, there are ways to design these things based on sound engineering principles and without incurring enormous risks of high-consequence events.  Very often that means keeping humans in the loop rather than delegating everything to microprocessors and stored-program control.  

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 04:46:35 AM PST

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      •  why sell it back? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cville townie, elfling

        Nationalize it and keep it.  

        Rights-of-way and the things that depend on them should be public property.   That includes the power grid and the telecom grid and the railroad grid.

        Private companies can provide products/services over those grids: for example power generation, telecom switching, and train operations respectively.  

        As in: highways publicly owned, trucks, buses, and cars privately owned.  Any private company can own & operate trucks or buses over the public roads.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 04:43:59 AM PST

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