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As many of you know, a couple million people in the DC area were without power in the wake of a single thunderstorm (hey, it was a doozy) on some of the hottest days of the year.

There is a chronic complaint about the various local electric companies' "service".  But answering the phone etc is not going to help the situation.  There are two things that can help, and the governors of the states and the DC council should work together to make it happen.  The shareholders of the companies should help ratepayers defray the cost.

There are two keys to resolving the problem.

(1) move all power lines and phone lines underground.

(2) subsidize solar panels/films/etc., to provide local, decentralized electricity generation.

RE the first key, I live in a community that has underground power lines.  On the last 20 years, we have lost power maybe 5 or 6 times, and almost never for more than a handful of hours.  It is always because a transformer has blown out (or been hit by a car as happened one winter).  This time it took 18 hours because of the destruction to the above-ground grid swamped our little problem.  But PEPCO knew it was a transformer within a few hours of it going out.

This would cost a lot of money.  But that sum would be dwarfed even by the net present value of the money saved by not incapacitating huge sections of the DC area every time a major thunderstorm hits.  Rockville and Bethesda seem to be on a single frayed extension cord that gets pulled everytime the wind blows.  Let's face it, above-ground lines and trees are a bad combination, and we need to keep the trees.  

Also, it would put a huge number of people to work doing something truly socially useful.  The lines could be updated, upgraded while being interred, which would further improve the situation.

The only downside from doing this is a bit of disruption to traffic and perhaps to electricity for areas getting upgraded.  But even that would be viewed as worth it by most.

RE the second key, Bill McKibben pointed out that recently Germany got HALF its electricity from solar.  The beauty of solar is it does not require complex transmission grids.  So even if your grid connection is knocked out, you still have power.  And yeah, there are  winds that would tear up your panels etc., but if that happens you probably have bigger problems anyway.

It is time to invest in actually solving the problem instead of flapping our lips about "service".  

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