“Infrastructure” Should Mean the Power Grid

I started to write this post fully intending to support the editors of the New York Times’s plea, spurred by the impetus of the disaster unfolding in Texas, that our national power grid is in serious, proximate need of expansion and rendering it capable of handling tomorrow’s challenges. Unfortunately, as I dug into the editorial I found it such a mess of throat-clearing, political posturing, and questionable claims I couldn’t do that.

Blaming George W. Bush’s stint as governor for Texas’s present problems? Was global warming really responsible for California’s wildfires? How about too many people living surrounded by poorly managed scrub? How do they explain California wildfires before electricity was in use and before human-induced global warming was conceivably a cause? And is it only the South that builds natural gas power generation with the structure used in Texas? Or are such plants in California, Arizona, and New Mexico built in a similar manner?

I will merely point out that we are likely to be increasingly dependent on abundant, reliable electricity rather than less. That is especially true if the Biden Administration’s visions of a U. S. less dependent on coal and oil is to be achieved. Private providers are unlikely to provide the necessary resiliency and redundancy. The economics just weighs against it.

When most think of “infrastructure” they mean our transportation grid but that is not the only infrastructure grid in the United States. There are also the telecommunications grid, the sewer systems, and the power grid. Increasingly, when we say “infrastructure” we should mean the power grid.

4 comments… add one
  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    Something to think about; what should be the Federal role in improving the grid.

    California and Texas have good arguments they need investment — by their State governments.

    Remember, Texas’s grid is mostly separated from the rest of the country because Texas wanted to keep the Federal government from regulating it. California isn’t asking for more electricity from out of State; its problem is in large part due to lack of maintenance and bad forestry practices.

  • California isn’t asking for more electricity from out of State; its problem is in large part due to lack of maintenance and bad forestry practices.

    I agree with the second clause in that sentence but not with the first. California presently gets 30% of its energy from out-of-state. If it doesn’t want to generate more of its own power (natural gas would be the better choice for California for seismic reasons) and it wants to increase the number of EVs, that implies it wants to get more of its energy from out-of-state.

  • Drew Link
  • Grey Shambler Link

    Pacific Gas and Electric has known for years that their 85 year old lines had not been maintained or forest cleared back.
    Start today and the clearing could be done in ten years.
    But it’s not even clear that that can be done without an environmental impact study.
    Always forward looking, San Francisco response was to ban natural gas in new construction.
    Given politics in California, this is a complete catch-22, a box canyon, a dead end.
    There will be no power grid infrastructure upgrade there.

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