CENTER OF THE AMERICAN EXPERIMENT: Arctic blast shows how we take the reliability of energy for granted
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 4:19 AM
It feels like we have become very spoiled - and as a result not grateful for the amazing life that is possible here in the great Northland. Or cognizant of what it takes to deliver reliable, affordable energy when we want it and (more importantly) when we need it.
Like last week.
Our recent big chill is a mere inconvenience rather than life-threatening if we heed common sense - and the furnace and car work as intended. I for one am very grateful that the electrical grid has continued to work, with only a few short and minor exceptions, here in Minnesota. The furnace goes on, so life goes on. The power is on and my Internet is working, so I can work at home while nursing a cold.
OK, the kids were home from school for a few extra days, but that was a wise nod to our dependence on buses and the stupidity of taking unnecessary risks just to prove how tough we are. The fact that they went back yesterday was a bit illogical, but it would be cruel to deprive them of stories about walking to school both ways uphill when it was 10 below.
But one big interruption of the grid would remind us of how precious reliable energy is - how we cannot function without it. I recall last summer when the power was off for days following a big storm in pockets around the metro area. A lot of food spoiled and people were hot and miserable waiting for power to come back on.
Imagine a wide outage in this weather. People can die in hot weather if they have a health condition or are very old, but lots of healthy folks can die in subzero temps.
We are spoiled, if not a bit decadent. How much time, money and effort does our public square devote to issues like ensuring reliable, affordable energy vs. the more trendy «renewable» forms of energy?
The answer is, not enough. We need to use our imagination and our native common sense as we assess the value of our electric grid to our everyday lives - and the precious reliability and affordability of energy as we reach for the lights, turn up the furnace or hop in the car. Renewability does nothing for you if it is not reliable.
Kim Crockett is chief operating officer of Center of the American Experiment.