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Sat Nov 24, 2012, 10:43 PM

"A Failed Experiment" by NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF at the NY Times

A Failed Experiment

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF at the NY Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/opinion/kristof-a-failed-experiment.html

"SNIP.........................................

More broadly, the lust for generators is a reflection of our antiquated electrical grid and failure to address climate change. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave our grid, prone to bottlenecks and blackouts, a grade of D+ in 2009.

So Generac, a Wisconsin company that dominates the generator market, says it is running three shifts to meet surging demand. About 3 percent of stand-alone homes worth more than $100,000 in the country now have standby generators installed.

“Demand for generators has been overwhelming, and we are increasing our production levels,” Art Aiello, a spokesman for Generac, told me.

That’s how things often work in America. Half-a-century of tax cuts focused on the wealthiest Americans leave us with third-rate public services, leading the wealthy to develop inefficient private workarounds.

.......................................SNIP"

17 replies, 2657 views

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Response to applegrove (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 10:56 PM

1. Good one, isn't it? Posted Thursday.

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Response to elleng (Reply #1)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 11:01 PM

2. I try to not repeat OPs. Sorry. I'll leave it up for those who visited

family and were not on the DU Thursday.

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Response to applegrove (Reply #2)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 11:13 PM

3. Yes, please do leave it up.

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Response to applegrove (Reply #2)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 11:59 PM

7. thanks. I hadn't seen it.

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Response to applegrove (Reply #2)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 04:15 AM

12. thanks, I hadn't seen it, either, and I'm on here all the time.

Or maybe I was doing something else on Thursday, don't remember.

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Response to applegrove (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 11:19 PM

4. It would be cheaper to cut down the damn trees.

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Response to applegrove (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 11:35 PM

5. So the rich don't have faith in the grid?

Why should they?

Thing is, if the grid goes down for a week and then their gens run out of fuel, they will be done for anyway.



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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #5)

Sat Nov 24, 2012, 11:56 PM

6. It isn't just the rich.

Where I live, in New Hampshire, we've had three multi day outages during winter weather in the last four years. Generators come in lots of different price levels, and lots of people have at least a low end DIY version.

Private utilities have transferred the cost of providing reliable power onto their customers, and their captive regulatory agencies have let them get away with it. Yes if you are so poor you can't afford a generator, you are screwed, but it isn't just the rich who are buying their own security.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #6)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 12:02 AM

8. It ain't the poor

Thing is, like the OP states, instead of making sure the grid is the best it can be, the rich are saying fuck you, I got mine. In a general sense.

But if the grid really badly goes down and gas stations can't get gas, gens will be like a lump of coal. Only coal burns easier.

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #8)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 10:33 AM

14. I agree with part of that, the investor class is outsourcing reliability to the peasants.

But I disagree with the inference that only "the rich" have access to generators. Actually, as seen in NYC, urban areas tend to spread the affliction of unreliability across classes as generators are problematic for apartment buildings, and in the suburbs and rural areas generators proliferate, they are not just for rich people. What we did see with Sandy is that class played a huge role in who got power back when

The "why" of home generators is correct: the .01% have pushed policies that disinvest in public infrastructure to maximize their income and wealth. The effects of that policy cut across class lines.

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #5)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 01:09 AM

11. The newest generators from Generac run on your natural gas supply.

If your home isn't heated by gas, you can sink a few propane tanks into the ground. This will supply your 10kW gennie for several weeks.

I confess that I've been shopping for a generator myself. We've had several very unpleasant and extend outages in the last few years.

The grid is falling apart. Demand has gone up 20% but supply has only increased 7% over the last decade.

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Response to applegrove (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 12:32 AM

9. We had a generator installed about five months ago

Since our house needs to pump sewage up hill we have a sewage ejection pump, and that pump only has a small holding tank. No power means no flushing toilets, no letting much water at all go down the drains.

I thought Sandy might have been the occasion when our new generator was first going to kick in, but we didn't lose power at our house despite the high winds, even though a few other people in southern NH did.

The last time we did have a blackout we had our first portable gasoline generator standing by, ready to go, but our electrician had never gotten around to installing a hook-up panel (we kept being told there were delays on the parts), so when the power went out he had to come by and do a temporary direct-wired hook-up.

After blowing out the transformers on both of our furnaces when the power from the generator sputtered after a restart (my rookie mistake, reconnecting the generator before opening the throttle), we didn't even get the benefit of heating our house during most the blackout. We ran out of gasoline twice and had to get into half-hour gas lines to refill.

We actually ended up without full power for a few hours longer than our neighbors because we needed to have the electrician come back to our house to undo the temporary generator hook-up. And then there was waiting another day to get heating back up and running, and the $230 bill for fixing the furnaces.

I decided that experience sucked badly enough that I sold the generator almost immediately to someone else whose power was still out, deciding that I wanted an automatic full house, natural gas fueled generator. Because of various delays and screw ups it took about six months to get the damned thing installed after making the decision to buy it.

But as least now we're fully ready for the next ice storm or blizzard or hurricane, and the D+ power grid.

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Response to Silent3 (Reply #9)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 10:38 AM

15. Yeah, I invested in a natural gas inline generator after the October ice storm.

Of course we haven't lost power for more than 15 minutes since then, but it is only a matter of time before another multi day/week outage hits us. I swore I would never have to live like that again.

The money spent on generators could instead have gone into putting the east coast street grid underground, but that would have been a rational public investment, and we don't do that anymore.

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Response to applegrove (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 12:55 AM

10. So are people stockpiling gas to run their generators as well?

Five gallons of gas is probably going to buy you less than a day of power.

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Response to bluedigger (Reply #10)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 10:56 AM

16. Yes there are now huge gas lines before any storm.

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Response to applegrove (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 05:21 AM

13. remember enron & the deregulation of the energy market? that's what happened. it's

 

not just about the integrity of the 'grid', it's about who controls it.

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Response to applegrove (Original post)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 11:37 AM

17. Damn we're starting to sound like a third-world country.

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