The Needs at Hand

by William Yeatman on May 15, 2008

What will it take for Americans to realize that we are in the midst of an energy crisis?  


Much of our dilapidated electricity infrastructure—power plants, transmission towers, transformers, utility poles, etc.—was built generations ago. Thanks to the stifling hand of government regulation, investment has lagged, and today the system is buckling under ever greater demand for juice. Capacity margins (the difference between how much electricity a utility can produce and how much it uses) historically has hovered around 20%, but now are as low as 3% in many parts of the country. According to a report by Nathanial Gronewold in yesterday’s Climate Wire, industry experts predict demand-driven blackouts as soon as this summer!


Paradoxically, rolling blackouts across America might be just what the doctor ordered.


For too long, the citizens of this country have taken energy reliability for granted. We assume that a flick of the switch will turn on a light. So there is no sense of urgency, even as a full blown electricity crisis gathers steam with each passing day.


A rude awakening—say, a prolonged blackout in mid summer—might jar Americans out of complacency and get them to pay attention to the needs at hand.  


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