**What happens when you don’t build more power plants? Get ready for spiking electricity rates, brownouts and even blackouts as demand soars **

If you think runaway oil prices are upsetting, just wait for what’s in store for electricity. Similar forces are in play. Demand is rising fast; supply is not. The cost to get coal and natural gas out of the ground is going up, and to that expense must be added the cost of the carbon permits that Congress and the presidential candidates are contemplating. Environmentalists are getting power plants scotched. China is sucking up energy. Leave such dynamics in play long enough, and price spikes in electricity follow. But that’s just the beginning. We may be facing brownouts (voltage reductions) and even rolling blackouts.

By as early as next year our demand for electricity will exceed reliable supply in New England, Texas and the West and, by 2011, in New York and the mid-Atlantic region. A failure of a power plant, or a summer-afternoon surge in the load, could make for a blackout or brownout. “There really isn’t any excess in the system,” says Rick P. Sergel, chief executive at the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).

Environmentalists :eek: . Our country is going to be the laughing stock of the world. As the one and only country that is not able to build or explore for energy. The LATE GREAT USA:shrug: .

What’ll we do when the air is too dirty to breath, the ground and water to polluted to provide sustenance? We can die in our central A/C homes. What a nice prospect. :rolleyes:

This sort of alarmist over-dramatization is precisely why environmentalist are seldom taken seriously by most Americans.

Texas can always stop exporting electricity to California. After all, their shortage is of their own making. We are building two new nuke plants down the coast from me. California wants to consume, but doesn’t want the plants in their own backyard.

It is in reality not an either or situation. If we as a country were to use our Blessings wisely we could protect the environment while having the best life style in the world. The fact is that right now, we have two camps glaring ate one another. The greens on one side and the don’t cares on the other. This way nothings gets done and the politicians win no matter which side they are on.:shrug:

Apologies for the length of this post but I just went into dump mode.

When I was a kid way back in the 60’s the Cuyahoga River caught fire. Lake Erie was proclaimed a dead lake. From my childhood home up on a hill you couldn’t see across the mill creek valley to any of the other hills around Cincinnati because of the haze; and that was for most of the year. You had your choice at the gas pump of regular (AKA ethyl) which was for tetraethyl lead in the gasoline or high octane more benzene. And all detergents had phosphates for extra cleaning popwer.

Now you can see across the valley most days out of the year, there is no such thing as ethyl and parts of the Cuyahoga river basin outside Cleveland have been turned into park land for a wild and scenic river. And there is plenty of fish to be had in Lake Erie. I caught a dozen walleye last summer. You can not lie to me and tell me the environment is the worse it has ever been.

The change was not brought about by the good intentions of local industry but purely by government regulations and the cost they spawned. And the effect was catastrophic for many workers. As an example, it became too expensive for P&G to burn fossil fuel to heat their Tide spray drier. It’s gone along with most of P&G manufacturing in this area. The company I am currently working for is installing a large gas fired steam plant because we can not or will not fund the necessary environmental control equipment to burn coal and meet regulations. The company I did work for recently shutdown operations and is now importing from China the very specialty chemicals we used to make. All for the same reason cost of complying with regulations. A lot of industry is gone those that haven’t left have installed or are in the process of installing cleaner burning equipment. And we can speculate the only reason they are still here is because it would cost too much to move somewhere else or they would be gone also.

We won’t have to worry about dropping dead choking on bad air in our air conditioned houses; we won’t be able to afford the electricity. What everyone seems to forget is that when you roll up to the pump to top off that gas tank with your custom blended anti smog formulated gasoline your not really buying gas you’re buying BTUs. For those who may not be aware a BTU is the acronym for British Thermal Unit. A BTU is a measure of energy. Like a calorie for those who like the SI system. It is the energy required to raise a pound of water 1 degree Fahrenheit. And it is energy you really want in that tank for your ride; not gasoline but energy. Something easily converted from chemical or electromagnetic into motion. And at the same time get a couple hundred miles between refills or recharges that only take a couple minutes of interruption of a trip.

It is the energy released when you burn fuel in your furnace, the car, the fireplace the stove et cetera that the debates are about. And the coal companies and the natural gas companies as well as the oil companies and the electric companies all know the current price of a BTU. And nobody is going to cut anybody a break. It is working strictly a supply and demand game. There are only so many BTUs available from hydroelectricity, geothermal, windmill, nuclear, the rest has to come from fossil fuels. It will not make any difference how hard anyone whines about it there is only a fixed amount of energy generated everyday. If demand outstrips supply something is going to give and that is price or rationing like brownouts.

Restrictions in burning coal have made it untenable for many power plants and so the switch to natural gas and fuel oil. Nuclear has been dead since the 70’s with Three Mile Island then the scare movie the China Syndrome to be topped off with Chernobyl. No one wants a wild and scenic river dammed for hydroelectricity. And geothermal and wind turbines are limited in locations and applications. The refiners can only split a barrel of crude so many ways and it is either going to be gasoline or fuel oil or some other kind of petrochemical. The alternate energy crowd have been licking there chops waiting for the day the big spike in energy prices so their private scheme for saving the planet will become economically viable. Which explains why they have been stumbling blocks for development. It isn’t the oil executives only wishing for higher priced BTUs The zero growth crowd which is morphed into a save the earth type global warming nut case has smothered the political debate with the mantra of save the children save the planet for so long stifling development we are stuck.

In most cases I think countries deserve the future they make for themselves. We have forgotten what hard work and sacrifice mean. We lost faith in the collective decisions of 200,000,000 consumers making the best choices for themselves. Everyone is afraid of any risk, so nothing gets done. Those operations that could invest in development want governmentsto pony up the money so thay are assured a profit. Hence, all the rebates to ADM and their cohorts for their ethyl alcohol blends and for biofuels.In an effort to not upset anybodies personal agenda (i.e. environmental or the corporate lobbyist) the politicians have settled on a plan to not make any decision and in a way that is a decision to damn everything except the capital markets where investments move around the globe with the click of mouse. One party proposes the other blocks and then vice versa. In the mean time no energy development; and manufacturing which is energy intensive will go where the getting is better.

So, when there is a voltage reduction or you get a migraine looking at your new electric bill or pained by the high gas prices :eek: don’t come complaining. If you didn’t see it coming you are blind.

I have a lot of difficulty believing we either have to live in a sewer or freeze in the dark.

My father was middle aged when I was born, and I’m not young myself. I recall his telling me that when he was a kid, you couldn’t climb a tree without coming down blackened with all the coal soot. He told me that in the cities it was almost as dark as night at noon. If you look under the sills of very old buildings in cities, you can still see that black soot where it has not yet washed off. Long ago, I used to appraise houses. Going into the attics I very frequently saw the old coal smoke residue on the wooden structures of the attic.

When my father was a kid, his family had a one-horse surrey for transportation. Nearly everybody had one or a buggy. One of his jobs was to shovel the horse manure and rotted straw bedding for the horse back to the alley where it would be picked up. And it wasn’t picked up every day either. They had outdoor privies too which, when it rained enough, overflowed into the alleys and streets along with the horse manure and rotted straw. If you go into old parts of town where the houses are very close together, you can just imagine how polluted it had to be, with garbage, horse manure and privies all in those tiny back yards.

Looking through ancient ordinances of my town, I saw where open tanneries were restricted to particular parts of town. I did a little research and found that open tanneries were nasty beyond reckoning, and harmful chemicals were just drained into the street culverts. The pollution from them must have been beyond imagining. I have seen photos of hills along the Hudson River that are composed of decomposing hide scraps dumped there long ago…big hills too.

And now, of course, there is some amount of pollution, but it is nowhere near what it was back then despite the fact that there are many more people and a lot more industrial processes. I really doubt that we are faced with the Hobson’s choice some seem to think we’re faced with.

Actually, this will bring about a resurge in conservation. We as a society have gotten away from it. We are conserving more on the road, and will conserve more in other ways. We are entering an era where the finite resources are shown more and more to be finite.

Early last century, conservation was a given, to make the most out of every resource. We are coming full circle now as the age of fossil fuels is starting to come to an end. Conservation was pushed pre-1930’s, and in the 1970’s, and now it is back again, and probably for a very, very long time. The age of copious consumption is coming to an end.

True, like almost all issues it is an either or discussion presented that way by parts of the media.

We also need to use our few remaining resources wisely, which is a very difficult thing for the US (or any other country) to do. We are playing catch up as we did not use the years since 1979 very wisely at all. We also have a responsibility to future generations to not drain the land of every resource as they will have nothing left.

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