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It’s A Question Of Power

Communication and electricity via poles and wires has been around since about 1840. How far have we come in every other aspect of technology?

We’ve all seen our legislators attempting to appear concerned by calling in BGE to explain how it reacted to our last big storm and all the outages we all suffered through. Maybe if the Public Service Commission turned down BGE for passing along the cost of power restoration from our big storms, there would be a financial incentive to bury wires. Fewer wires to come down would mean fewer outages.

BGE claims the cost of burying wires is $3 million per mile. There’s got to be a better way to deal with the problem of constant and prolonged storm outages, until a new Edison can invent a better way to distribute electricity. Smart meters: Really? BGE has a plan, the cost of which will be passed on to customers to install digital meters that can be read remotely. What if there’s no power to the meter? Hello? What’s smart about staffing and paying for tree cutting that amounts to nothing when our newest storm “Derecho” is added to our annual hurricane visits? What’s smart about any of this?

Communication and electricity via poles and wires has been around since about 1840. How far have we come in every other aspect of technology? We can bury fiber optic cable for phone and internet all over the place, but not power. All our new “cyber” age technology will not work without a reliable power source.

Where did the Trillions in “stimulus” funding go?  Did we really see much improvement to outdated roads and bridges? We can get to those when we change over to more manufacturing to create more jobs. What about a national program to update the power grid and make it safe- really safe. Talk about new jobs!

Oh, and let’s not forget to add up the cost of the lost business, work time and other economic loss, including taxes to our beloved State from all this loss activity. Well, I guess there’s always higher sales taxes from customers having to re-stock refrigerators at least once and from all that extra diesel fuel for generators.

Is this all solvable and even affordable?  I’m not smart enough to know how to fix each element, but something tells me, yes!

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Dave September 01, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Jeff, Such a system would also have the advantage of providing an arbitrage opportunity in the case that electricity prices grow substantially faster than natural gas prices.
Jeff Andrade September 01, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Sorry Dave I just can't get there with the numbers. Think this is one of those instances where I think it's more economical to most consumers to go with self-sufficiency over collective action.
Patrick H. September 01, 2012 at 03:41 AM
I agree with Jeff on the issue of generators. When we do purchase a home we will put a generator in. It is my understanding that I can have a complete system installed that would run the entire house on either propane or gas and that the system is around $7-8,000. If I include it in the purchase of the house I can also include it as part of my mortgage. I would love to see the cost of solar panels come down but I think the generator is the way to go. As far as power lines are concerned I believe that all lines should be underground so as to save more trees and the environment. Power lines are just plain ugly.
Dave September 01, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Hmm. 1 therm = 29.3 kWh. BGE price for gas is $0.60 per therm. The Honda EU2000i (a smaller generator) will run for 4 hours at 1600 watt load with a fuel tank capacity of 1.1 gal. Gas has a potential chemical energy of roughly 33.4 kWh/gal, so there's 36.7 kWh of energy in the tank, but it only yields 1.6*4 = 6.4 kWh of electricity. Thus a fair estimate of the efficiency of the Honda eu2000i is 6.4/36.7 = 17.4% efficient. Thus, each therm of natural gas into the eu2000i will deliver 29.3 kWh*0.17 = 5.1 kWh. Thus $0.6 per therm will give you $0.6/5.1 = $0.118 per kWh. So it isn't economical to run your natural gas generator to power your house today, but it's not far off. BGE charges around 9.8 cents per kWh, so you are only losing 2 cents per kWh.
Traci M. Radice October 02, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Smart meters cause fires, too.

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