Natural Gas: America’s Future Electric Grid?
In August 2003, cascading electric blackouts across the northeast United States left roughly 50 million people without power and cost billions of dollars in economic losses. That incident called into question the reliability of America’s electric power grid.
To the extent anyone still had doubts, that question was answered decisively by the prolonged power outages in New York City that followed Hurricane Sandy.
The interconnected system of transmission and distribution networks commonly known as America’s “electric grid” is broken. The North American energy grid is aging, increasingly fragile, buffeted by deregulation and market forces, stressed by relentlessly increasing demand, operating at near capacity with decreasing staffs and reliant on electronic components.
Today’s electric grid was not designed to survive strong winds, storm surges, falling trees and flying debris and seems ludicrously inadequate for the demands of America’s increasingly digital and connected economy. The costs of hardening the electric grid will be vast. One widely cited study by the Brattle Group estimated that the electric utility industry will need to invest a $1.5 trillion to $2.0 trillion in infrastructure upgrades by 2030.
Despite spending epic sums of money on the so-called “smart grid,” the electric power grid seems as stupid as it was before spending billions in federal stimulus dollars.
So rough estimates put the figure at $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion to upgrade the US electrical grid.
No politician or president would approve spending that amount on upgrading the grid, not in this economy, and probably not in a good one either. that means that it wont happen. I expect token amounts to be spent on improving and repairing the worst areas, just enought ot enable the whole system to limp along for a few more years.
Numerous neighborhood 100MW LFTRs would help out immensely.
But again, at what cost? And who will operate them?
Less than coal. Trained operators one expects.
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