I live in the northeast. Unless you are living in a bunker on the moon - you know where this is going. A “freak” storm headed up the east coast last Saturday. That storm left 3 million without out power.
Ok - it was a crazy storm - but 3 million is about 2.5 million too many. Our infrastructure should not be so problematic in the 21st century. Secondly - as of yesterday it was being reported that over 2 million were still without power. After 3 days they were just 1/3 of the way back to mormal?
Luckily, I have power. I spent the better part of the last four days clearing downed limbs from my property - That’s part of the new normal that can not be avoided. But many people I know are still without power. That should NOT be part of the new normal. Nor should the fact that I reported a massive tree limb from county trees on high tension wires blocking my ability to exit my driveway. I called the authorities and still no action…4 days later???? A high wind could take down those lines taking power away from thousands of people - Let’s not even discuss the danger to me and drivers on the highly trafficed street my driveway sits on. But I guess I’m being trivial.
Having the power grid down for millions of people would have 100% unacceptable 20 years ago….
Back in the dark ages of the late 1970s I experienced my first grid failure. Nothing special was planned, it was a hot summer night and my parents were in the city. I had a friend over and we were working on a jigsaw puzzle. Suddenly…all the lights went out. Totally unprepared, we stumbled around in the dark because - as we found out - flashlights are a hard thing to find in the dark. Once we had a working flashlight, I was able to secure a couple of antique oil lamps from the basement. Fortunately, we had oil. After a bit of digging around, we found matches. Over the next hour we set ourselves up with oil lamps and candles. The whole time it never dawned on us that the whole power grid had gone down.
Why? For the same reason we weren’t at all prepared for the lights to go out. Today a heat wave and lightening storm would be a signal to prepare for a blackout. Back then, our grid actually WORKED. Stuff like that just didn’t happen in the modern rockin’ world of the 70s. I had a battery operated radio - so we finally turned that on and heard that all of NYC was in the dark. We were STUNNED!
In the aftermath, there were investigations - the event was not taken lightly. I was pretty young at the time, certainly there must have been some political grandstanding that I was unaware of. But in the end….Government cooperated with the utilities. They pulled themselves together and went about insuring that this would not happen again!
Let the finger-pointing begin…..
Those were the good old days…..Now the entire process has degenerated into a finger-pointing contest. Our local utility (ConEd) points rightly at local and county governments…Why didn’t they trim county, and city-owned trees that run alongside many of the major power lines? With the highest property taxes in the nation - that’s the least they can do. The county and city points to ConEd stating truthfully that they are woefully understaffed and the grid is antiquated. They also point out that this is the case even though ConEd customers enjoy the second highest gas and electric rates in the nation.
And the blame game continues into the recovery phase. ConEd blames the county for not clearing the downed trees quickly enough for them to work and the county blames ConEd for not getting the grid back on line and nothing changes except that the burden of this mess is passed on to the consumer. I personally have spent $2000 of MY MONEY trimming back county trees that lie near my property over the last two years. I will also have to invest in a generator because losing power for days on end is now an integral part of my life. So what the #$%! am I paying such a premium for in terms of taxes and utility bills?
The New York Times has an article today that sums it up nicely…When each bad storm means more dark days..
A pox on BOTH of your houses - both ConEd and and Westchester County are equally blameworthy, but the bickering and finger-pointing gets us nowhere…
Neither our government or the utilities are functioning…which I admit has become a common theme of mine. But the essential culprit here is the lack of government oversight and REGULATION. Anyone who thinks lack of oversight and regulation have nothing to do with need to think again.
Look what happened to the grid in California when Enron got its grubby hands on it because of deregulation by the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) ? Does anyone remember what a mess that was? Rolling blackouts, soaring prices, shortages contrived by unregulated utilities taking power stations off the grid during peak usage just to jack up prices.
Deregulating public utilities is a mistake of monumental proportions. They are natural monopolies and the consumer is therefore at their mercy. Such industries require rigorous oversight or we will rapidly devolve into a society that relies on oil lamps, candles and fires to keep us warm.
When did we become completely incapable of investing in our own country?
The tea party wanted to get government out of their lives….well careful what you wish, you just might get it. Government out of your lives means an uncontrolled, grid, bad roads, crumbling bridges, poor railroad transportation, an air traffic grid woefully out of date…and eventually - a third world nation.
What about the cost to the “job creators” the tea party keeps howling about? The small businesses they claim to champion can be devastated such frequent interruptions. But the tea party just keeps screaming that higher taxes would bring small business to its knees - so the obvious impact of major power grid interruptions get swept under the rug.
But think on this - why would a business - large or small be interested in setting up shop in areas where the power grid can collapse like a sand castle when the tide rolls in? Further, if you think the businesses that are still here will stay when they find they are doing business by candlelight every time it rains - think again.