The reason my blog and everything else this week is late or unfinished is because we had a storm this past weekend in the Washington, DC area. It wasn't the derecho, like last time. It wasn't thundersnow, because that wouldn't happen in the summer. No, we had a plain old heavy rain storm. Our electricity went out…AGAIN. I have already thought about getting a generator, but the real problem is PEPCO, the local utility company. To put it mildly, they suck. This past weekend, I felt like I lived in an upscale, first world version of India. We're in America. We've had electrical grids for decades, practically a century. Regardless of climate change and more incidents of weather issues, they should have figured this out by now and started to address it.
I find out, unsurprisingly, that PEPCO has been mismanaging money and not planning well for the future for a long time. Though this past year they have been trimming trees like mad, still, when the wind blows a little bit, and I mean a little bit, we have no power. Shouldn't we be looking for some different ways to get power to our communities? Shouldn't we be looking at alternative energy sources? Shouldn't PEPCO be figuring this stuff out cause my bill ain't changed. My electricity gets turned off if I don't pay it. What should we, the public do if the only utility providing electrical service just sucks?
Here's an idea! Invest in new technology. Marty Elrich, of Maryland's Montgomery County Council thinks so and explains to Forbes Magazine.
Clean Beta: A significant portion of Pepco’s underground distribution cables are approaching the end of its reliable service life. As far as I know, there is no long term plan for replacing or reinforcing the underground system. Does this present an opportunity to reinvent the power grid in Montgomery County? Is 2012 the right time to do so?
Elrich: The more I learn about advanced energy technology, the more I believe this is long in the tooth. We need to start exploring micro-grids, co-generation on a larger scale and distributed power generation – local wind, fuel cells, trash and garbage (organic waste) to energy. There are new technologies, not just emerging but actually going into service, that could break our dependence on massive utility plants and an expensive and massive grid in which a lot of the energy produced is lost. There is no wrong time to look at your options. You should always be looking around to see whether what you’re doing is a best practice and reflective of the current state of knowledge. Montgomery County is a great place because we have an educated population that would welcome a well thought out transition to a future that was greener, more efficient and offers a good value.