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One Worldwide Power Grid 464

randomned writes "A little ironic that this article on a world wide power grid was published in the September issue of Wired. With the recent outage on in the northeast, think of what could've happened if the entire world was on one grid." As someone who spent 23 and a half hours without power, I'm thinking this is a brilliant plan!
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One Worldwide Power Grid

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  • The Internet model (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Empiric ( 675968 ) * on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:11PM (#6717015)
    I'd imagine that the market forces in play here are a lot like the ones in play in the 80's for phone service. If given a monopoly, a company will fight to maintain exclusive control over its geographical domain, to the detriment of consumers.

    The evolution of the internet is in stark contrast to this, where bandwidth can be bought from any one of many vendors (despite efforts of existing local telco's and cable providers to restrict the market by controlling the wiring).

    The (U.S., at least) government needs to take the same steps as they took with AT open up the market for energy distribution. Let the market decide where and when it's economically feasible to lay new power lines, and this will grow much like WiFi is, starting in the most-demanded areas and spreading out from there. Along with this will come the kind of redundancies that the northeast U.S. and Canada should have had; with market forces in play a company is going to be very careful about making sure their customers don't lose power--the damage to a competing company's reputation from something like the recent blackout would be terrible for them to contemplate.

    I'll look forward to the day I can have a box on the side of my house into which I can plug whatever sources of electricity I choose, and I expect that the costs of this commodity will then drop dramatically, much like telephone service did.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:44PM (#6717223)
      In A.D. 2001
      Dubya was beginning

      Davis: What happen?
      SoCal Edison: Somebody set up us the blackout.

      PG&E: We get bankruptcy.
      Davis: What !

      PG&E: Electricity turn off.
      Davis: It's you !!

      BC Hydro: How are you gentlemen !!
      BC Hydro: All your power are belong to us.
      BC Hydro: You are on the way to Stone Age.

      Davis: What you say !!
      BC Hydro: You have no chance to Chapter 11 make your payment.

      PG&E: Governor !!

      Davis: Take off every 'regulation' !!

      Davis: You know what you doing.

      Davis: Move 'regulation'.

      Davis: For great darkness [].

    • by ZPO ( 465615 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:47PM (#6717238)
      I don't think having a single "grid" covering a larger area is itself a problem. The problem arises when you don't have an appropriate set of safeguards in place to protect that grid from itself and an effective SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) network in place to monitor it all.

      The technology is there to do it safely and reliably. It just costs money. Right now the major utilities have no profit motive to deploy technologies to harden and protect the power distribution and transmission systems.

      In most states you can now sell power back to the utilities. A local generation plant (solar, hydro, wind, etc) can be connected to the power system via a utility intertie rated device.

      This can as simple as a utility intertie rated inverter as part of you home solar system. Unfortunately for everyone else on your block, as soon as commercial input fails your system will stop providing power out to the utility side. This is to protect power company personnel during line repairs.
      • Okay, well, if the sole source of safeguards is government regulation, that's improvable. Even when things do fail, the utility company has no real worries, they'll still be there protected by their government mandate. Market forces changes this.

        "No profit motive to deploy". Exactly.

        You can sell back power to your utility (singular), yes, but this doesn't create any competition for the utility.

        The fact that I can invest major dollars in my own power source is a different thing; many people would no

      • Utilities are no longer required to buy power from producers, since an act of congress in 1990s...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:15PM (#6717388)

      Let the market decide where and when it's economically feasible to lay new power lines

      And leave most of the rural areas of the coutry to what? Where one can set-up some kind of home-grown solution to the networking, you just can not expect every community that wants and needs electricity to build its own nuclear/coal/gas power plant just because they dont have rivers, wind, coal, gas, or sun in the amounts needed to produce electricity. If you will leave this area to completely free market, you will essentialy widen the gap between metropolis areas and rural areas, producing something to the effect of true Mad Max style civilization. Thank you, but count me out.

      and this will grow much like WiFi is

      You mean like Wi-Fi hot-spots that you can find around most frequented areas in cities (airports, hotels, cafees, ...) If you find economic viability in setting up those everywhere where there is electricity available at this instance, please do call me. I want to move to your country.

      starting in the most-demanded areas and spreading out from there

      I'm listening about the broadband for everybody, Wi-Fi for everybody, spreading the connectivity to everybody, ... Well, I just don't see this happening. I just don't like to have American Dream include power generator in the basement. Governments can be good for some things that are not economicaly sane in the short run, but bear fruits in range of 20-50 years down the road. I'm sorry, but electricity is not about competition and free market, it's about common good that has to be provided to everybody for a fair price. This ideally means that country takes more taxes from the richer and builds infrastructure that can be used by all equaly. I guess the next thing you will probably suggest is to dissolve the coutries all together and let the corporations run everything. Including printing the money. Why don't we liberalize priting the money? Why don't we have, say, 4 or 5 money printing companies that are fighting each other for the market share of the paper notes. I don't think so. Either go anarcyh, or leave the democracy alone, please.

      Along with this will come the kind of redundancies that the northeast U.S. and Canada should have had

      You must not be serious? I guess California has those redundancies? The only thing that California gained is some spare power in the production part of distribution grid due to people moving out businesses to more 'regulated' areas of USA, where they were fairly shure there will be no regular rolling blackouts happening and prices set on more manageable level. This and tech bubble bursting. Since it is a fact, that accidents do happen (and it's not like they are happening on year, by year basis) what do you think what happens when some bean counter disconnects your part of the grid since it is not economicaly viable any more. Haven't you listened for past few days? Redundancies are basicaly wasted resource. If you host some small web server with couple of pages, do you plan it for ./ effect? If you do, you are wasting enormeous resources (bandwith lease, CPU power to cope with serving, memory, storage requirements for logs, ...), but if you don't you're living with a threat that one sole link will kill (not premanenlty we hope) your connection and server. Redundancies don't make much of economic sense if you are profit oriented. On the other hand, if your paycheck depends on people voting you in or out of office, you want to be service oriented. I do not want to debate current political situation in USA (I don't care sh**t about it actually), but the idea is that you want to please the people. In this instance you please them with balancing their mandatory part (governement taxes) against their infrastructure expectations (no blackouts) against their participatory part (electricity bills). Do you really want to risk having this balance to be taken by some unscrouplus corporate entity going

      • by Empiric ( 675968 ) * on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:44PM (#6717565)
        Hmm... it looks like this could become a monster thread, but a few further comments:

        I'm not sure how we get from "applying market forces" to "leaving the rural areas to build their own power plants". Other technology infrastructure types have shown that market forces result in greater availability, not less. Rural areas would not compelled to switch to a local power generation source, but if that was more efficient, the market is the only thing that's going to make it happen, and would result in cheaper prices for its residents.

        Redundancy is not a waste of resources, and the only thing determining what is or is not a waste is... the market. The Slashdot example is contrived; what I would want is enough server capacity to handle the full demands *and* have a failover.

        We can go with the "fair price" as defined by the utility companies, or the "fair price" as determined by competition. Option 2 is lower.

        Money is a *very* special case, and I'd be happy to liberalize the printing of money if that meant the dollars would have to be backed by something, rather than paper fiat-money. I wouldn't care who stamped my coin of actual gold, I know it's of value (but that's a whole other thread...).

        Illegal activity of people in a free market isn't really an argument against the concept. I think even with the Enron's of the world, it's pretty clear that government management leads to more corruption, rather than less. Government-controlled methods usually don't have effective checks or balances, as the collapse of the Soviet Union on all levels helps demonstrate.

        The final paragraph seems to be arguing my case, so I'll leave that one alone...

        And with that, I'm out!
        • by lightsaber1 ( 686686 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @03:45PM (#6718143)
          Other technology infrastructure types have shown that market forces result in greater availability, not less.

          you mean like phone service? since they've privatized phone service in Ontario I have yet to see any improvements on rural lines. It costs WAY too much to lay lines over such a large area, and there aren't enough people to provide the necessary returns. The same would be true for electricity.

          Electricity generation and distribution has been privatized in Ontario (albeit only one company "owns" the infrastructure: Hydro One) and as I understand it many of the states affected by this blackout have a similar system in place. Hydro One has not increased generation capacity significantly in recent years, and it has several nuclear plants down for maintenance right now...I have no idea what's going on in the US system.

          Note that this did not help (though I won't suggest it hurt just yet). I think once the Ohio system went down we basically saw a simple case of overload on the rest of the system, which took things down. The overload was partially due to a lot of use -- it was a HOT day, but also due to a lack of generation.

          What *should* have happened is bits of the grid should have been shut off, but instead the plants went down, causing a cascading effect. Note that this is all conjecture on my part as I don't have all the facts I'm sure.

          Money is a *very* special case, and I'd be happy to liberalize the printing of money if that meant the dollars would have to be backed by something, rather than paper fiat-money. I wouldn't care who stamped my coin of actual gold, I know it's of value

          Is it? What makes gold of value where fiat money has none? Gold is just a mineral, paper money is just paper, most money is nothing but numbers on a computer. Gold hasn't backed anything or had any "value" for a large number of years now (except as a commodity), sorry to burst your bubble my friend.

          Also, what about water, etc? Seems to me that like water, electricity has become a basic necessity. Yes, it is possible to live without, but probably over 99% of people use electricity on a daily basis and cannot function without it. Roads, education, and (in Canada) health care all fall into this category too. The role of the government in a democracy is, among other things, to provide the basic necessities so they are available to everyone at a fair price. For a government to not have regulations and some control over the electricity distribution system would simply be negligence imho.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:50PM (#6717594)
      Hello California! We used your brilliant strategy and let the market decide. And the result was sky-high prices, and an energy deficiency because the companies (ENRON) could make more money starving us than giving good service. Your plan is a failure. Unfettered capitalism DOESN'T WORK because the original concept assumed a level of fraternity and loyalty that DOES NOT exist. If you don't beleive me go read history.
    • by jmccay ( 70985 )
      A lot of states are currently doing something like that. What will most likely happen is that the source of the power will change, but you'll get it from the same power lines that you you do now. There will be some form of a usage fee for the wires that gets paid to the maintainers of the wires in the area.
      Look at the telephone industry. You don't have multiple telephone lines. This is because the phone companies rent time on each others line cheaper than they charge us. They make a profit off the
    • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @02:51PM (#6717931) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, the internet was deregulated, and the power system was regulated. But think about how generally unreliable the internet is compared to the power system. Parts of it go down all the time. Think about the last network outage compared to the last blackout. How long did that blackout last compared to the network outage?

      The power system is much more critical then the internet. Without power, people can get stuck in elevators, AC goes out, the cellular phone system can go down, etc.

      Another problem that showed up in the power system is that companies like Enron were, with no equivocation, bandits. They actually fucked with the California power system in order to extract better deals from the state, along with the well-known securities thieving they pulled off.

      Any attempt at power deregulation should also require a much, much better standard for open-ness and honesty from the companies. Peoples lives are actually at state here and leaving our power grid in the hands of criminals is not a very good plan.

      And we also need to design a much more fault-tolerant grid system as well. It's just ridiculous that one fuckup can shut down the entire east coast, especially 40 years (or whatever) after the exact same thing happened...
  • Northeast? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Vic ( 6867 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:13PM (#6717033) Homepage
    From my perspective (Canadian) it's more accurate to say it was in the south-east. :)
    • by Xzzy ( 111297 ) <sether AT tru7h DOT org> on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:17PM (#6717059) Homepage
      As a Canadian, you should have learned by age 2 that America is incapable of reporting on anything from other than it's own perspective. ;)
      • Re:Northeast? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dannon ( 142147 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:37PM (#6717181) Journal
        I hear this complaint a lot about American news sources, that they are "incapable of reporting from non-American perspectives". But I would put it to you that no news source can honestly claim to report news from a perspective too far removed from that of the reporters.

        For example, if I want to read a straight-up unadulterated Iraqi viewpoint of the war, or the outage, or anything, I'm not going to go to Fox News, I'm going to go to an Iraqi news source. British? I'll go to the BBC, or the Telegraph, or something like that. Canadian? Well, there's a-plenty of Canadian news sources on the web.

        Likewise, if I want to read American perspectives on anything, I'm not going to be reading the BBC.

        In fact, I'd propose that when a news source goes too far out of their way to show "the other side", they risk covering up important truths altogether. Look at how CNN deliberately squelched stories that might make the Hussein regime look bad, all to keep their "access" to Baghdad.

        It is as it is. Reporting facts is one thing, reporting "perspectives" is another. It ain't an American thing, it's a human thing.
        • by freeweed ( 309734 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:49PM (#6717253)
          if I want to read a straight-up unadulterated Iraqi viewpoint of the war, or the outage, or anything, I'm not going to go to Fox News, I'm going to go to an Iraqi news source.

          Yeah, because we all know just how well informed the Iraqi Information Minister is. I'm still pretty sure the Americans haven't been into Baghdad yet.
        • Re:Northeast? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by listen ( 20464 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:29PM (#6717481)
          I don't think that anybody is claiming that non-American news sources are peachy clean and experience things without a perceptual or cultural bias. That is a fact of the human condition - we can only know things within our perceptual framework - blah Descartes blah Heidegger blah.

          The difference with American news sources is that this cultural distortion seems to be ignored, and as a result, much greater in effect. As a Brit, I was shocked when in New York at the one sidedness of reports on Israel-Palestine. And the whole NYT fabrication stuff - this would not have been so big an issue in almost any other country, because the assumption is that all the media has some slant. I was surprised at how a lot of Americans were so shocked that journalists are not transferring direct knowledge of deep reality into their minds.

          I would say that American media is far more insular, and far more likely to distort the truth. They are not uniquely different in having a bias and twisting the truth - they are just plain worse than a lot of the rest of the western worlds media.
        • Re:Northeast? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @02:02PM (#6717662) Homepage Journal
          I would put it to you that no news source can honestly claim to report news from a perspective too far removed from that of the reporters.

          The simple fact that you think Canada is "too far removed" for U.S. reporters speaks volume.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:14PM (#6717037)
    One Grid to rule them all,
    One Grid to find them,
    One Grid to bring them all,
    And in the Darkness bind them...
  • by Krapangor ( 533950 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:15PM (#6717050) Homepage
    A world wide power grid mean that the whole world is connected with one power grid.
    However, we all know that there are conflicts between many countries of the world. The world wide power grid would be soon a strategic element in such conflicts. One country could e.g. try to suck all power out of the grid to black out an opponent and make a preventive strike against them. But such tatic move wouldn't only affect the conflict members but the whole world. So if Bush strikes Iraq, then France, Russia and China would be sitting in the dark.
    I think I dodn't have to point out further how dangerous this would be.
    • by suwain_2 ( 260792 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:29PM (#6717130) Journal
      One country could e.g. try to suck all power out of the grid to black out an opponent....

      Just short 'em together. It should make for a spectacular fireworks show. ;)

      Realistically, though, I forsee this having advanced 'routing' and even 'firewalls' like the Internet. In other words, when Iraq suddenly starts using 10x the normal power, we simply say "Okay, we're going to cut back on how much power we 'share'"

      It'd be more advanced than just wires run all over the place. I'd think you'd be able to say "Only share 10 megawatts" or whatnot.

      It also gives us the ability to say "Iraq's been using too much power. We're about to go war with them." And get all the other providers to stop sharing power.

      IMHO, this works perfectly if, and only if, it's just a means of sharing _excess_ power, but preserving (and steadfastly refusing to share) the power we need. When we have excess power being generated, we can share some. When we need a little more, we can borrow some. Like those "Take a penny, leave a penny" things. (Okay, strange example, I know.) Someone's not going to clean out your savings account by taking everything in the penny thing. All it does is helps others.
      • Why is it that when I read this, the first thing that came to mind was Bittorrent []? Maybe we should get Brahm to work with the electric companies.

      • well, i don't know about usa, but most developed countries have such system and contracts already(ie. finland buys electricity from russia, and takes care that it wont f*** up finlands system if it gets interrupted). and the grid is monitored constantly and if theres sudden surges or too much power on lines they adjust routing accordingly(with reserve powers available for this sole purpose of easing up the load in case lines get overloaded).

        now, taken all that into consideration i must say that i was amaz
    • A world wide power grid mean that the whole world is connected with one power grid.

      Mensa member, beware of stating the obvious.

      One country could e.g. try to suck all power out of the grid to black out an opponent and make a preventive strike against them.

      No, that would be an offensive strike. There is no such thing as a preventative strike, only those who strike first.

      I think I dodn't have to point out further how dangerous this would be.

      You're right, you dodn't.

      Mensa member, beware of the high IQ

      Mensa member, beware of the grammar.

  • a few thoughts... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SubtleNuance ( 184325 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:18PM (#6717066) Journal
    One solution is to have distributed, smaller, RENEWABLE sources of energy generation. Windmills and Solar installations go along way to making a neighbourhood, or small city 'black-out proof'; further, it provides an opportunity for community self-sufficiency and de-centralized administration of a communities' infrastructure.

    instead of building 10 new natural gas power stations, we should build 1000 new small wind installations, distribute them around liberally to off-set the heavy reliance on out-of-reach massively-capital intensive projects.

    The good would also be that this would cause NO POLLUTION.

    Seeing how reliant we are on electricity in the West a couple things come to mind: A) Conservation, as always, is being overlooked by the pro-consume propaganda of western consumer-culture advocates. and B) The Re-regulation of the NorthAmerican Hydro infrastructure will only lead to a culture of capitalist finger-pointing, profiteering and irresponsibility. If the Hydro system is COMPLETELY privatized, who would get power first after a blackout? Residents who need it to live or Industrial/Commercial Interests who will write contracts to assure their production?

    • You mean like this []?

      It got to start from the government..
    • Why bother with wastefull wind generation plants (they waste space and generate noise) Fuel cells work can be powered easily off biomass (aka our waste) and with a unit in every house producing 5kw we would have a good deal of excess capacity while keeping generation local the unit sits on a pad outside and is the size of a refrigerator. Realy is you use a pump to compress the natural gas to a storage tank you have a decent backup supply.

      For the more power consious attach a battery farm in the middle (ok
    • No. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cperciva ( 102828 )
      Wind and Solar power would not solve this problem -- they would make it worse.

      The entire reason we have a power grid is to improve reliability. When a power plant needs to be taken down for maintainance, power is brought in from somewhere else; without the grid, we'd have blackouts every time plants were shut down for maintainance.

      Solar and wind power are far less reliable than fossil and nuclear power. As a result, using them would require a larger, more expensive, grid in order to maintain the same qu
      • Solar and wind power are far less reliable

        Huh? What are you smoking? They are very VERY low maintenance and incredibly reliable (low maint because of few problems).

        where nuclear, gas and coal, because of their risks (explosion/meltdown) require MUCH maintenance. Also, this maintenance requires that they be shutdown, monitored and generally have $ dumped on them to keep them from going BOOM!

        Coal/Gas and Nuclear are *not* cheaper either, this 'avert explosions' maintenance and built-in-capital-inve
        • How do you plan on getting solar power in the middle of the night? How do you get wind power when there isn't any wind?

          Nuclear, gas, coal, and hydro power can all run at 90%+ of their peak capacity 90%+ of the time. With solar and wind power, you're lucky to be above 50% of peak capacity more than 50% of the time.
      • Coal and nuclear put all of your generation capacity at large, centralized locations which are very reliant on the National Grid to move the power around.

        And as we've recently seen, you can't put complete faith in the Grid. It is not a completely secure system, nor can it be made so.

        Solar and Wind are both *very* reliable - over a long enough baseline period. Over a period of, say, a year the total solar energy available varies by only a few percent.

        So what does that mean? Well, either you need energy st
      • Re: Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Ricdude ( 4163 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:24PM (#6717457) Homepage
        Solar and wind power less reliable than fossil and nuclear power? You must be kidding. If you're talking about the new solar energy power plants, well, they're just plain silly anyway. However:

        Park a few solar panels on your rooftop, put a stack of deep-cycle batteries in a closet, and disconnect yourself from "the grid". Don't run major appliances after dark, and your batteries will last longer. Install 12V DC lighting around the house, use 12V appliances and accessories (e.g. designed for cars/boats/RVs) where possible, and run them straight off the batteries. Get large appliances (refridgerators, freezers, washing machines) that were designed to run efficiently, and use even less of it. A large part of the problem in converting an existing house to solar energy is is the task of replacing the house's infrastructure to one suitable for solar power.

        Another part of the problem in converting the average modern house is that, although stick frame houses are cheap and inexpensive to construct, they cost a lot to keep cool in the summer, and heat in the winter. Think of them as one big heat sink. By orienting houses with large windows to the south, and roof overhangs designed to allow low winter sun in, and keep high summer sun out, (or with a few large deciduous trees to your south for the same effect), you save a big fat bundle of energy in climate control. Add a fair amount of thermal mass to your outside walls (cob, adobe, straw-bale, rammed earth, earthship), put some of your living space underground, and you might even survive year round with no climate control.

        Don't want to go whole hog? Get a grid intertie system, park the solar panels on your roof, and connect them through the intertie straight to the local power grid. It won't power your house after dark, or through a local (or widespread) outage, but you'll be helping offset the electricity demand period during the day, when electricity usage is highest. Better yet, if you make more electricity than you use (and your state requires the participation of the electric company), you can get paid by the electric company for the surplus you generate. The power company pays me $15 a month for the ability to cycle my water heater and air conditioner off for up to 15 minutes an hour (25% load reduction) in the summer, I don't see why they don't offer me $30-$50 a month for the privilige of parking an extra 3-5kW power plant on my roof.

        The whole point of solar/wind/geothermal/renewable power, IMHO, is that you wouldn't need a "larger, more expensive, grid". With sufficient distribution of solar panels, backup batteries, and (worst-case) backup generators, you wouldn't need a grid at all. Each neighborhood could be fairly self sufficient, houses with good solar siting would provide the panels, those without could provide backup batteries, or house generators for emergency power. With houses built for energy efficiency from the start, you'd need a lot less power (find the exact statistics yourself) to get through your day. All of which would mean less mass power generation, which means fewer fossil and nuclear plants, which means greater energy independence, all of which is good for the future.
    • Small Is Profitable - The Hidden Benefits of Making Electrical Resources the Right Size [] by the Rocky Mountain Institute [] covers the technical, financial and quality of service arguments for making a mixed power generation economy the standard approach to service provision.

      What does that mean in real terms? Not windmills and solar everywhere, but about 8 - 15% wind and solar at carefully picked positions, augmented by microturbines.

      It's a good book, if you can make it through four hundred pages about loadhs
    • Some articles... (Score:2, Informative)

      by useosx ( 693652 )
      Here's some articles from around the web about the power outage (all collected by one site, Personally, I would rather live off the grid totally. It's inevitably going to be so much cheaper, which is the main incentive for me.

      An Industry Trapped by a Theory [] by Robert Kuttner

      The Latest Bogus Fossil-Nuke Blackout: This Grid Should Not Exist [] by Harvey Wasserman

      Power Outage Traced to Dim Bulb in White House [] by Greg Palast

      A Tale of Two Power Outages [] by John Turri
    • Re:a few thoughts... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Jzanu ( 668651 )
      Several faults in argument, presentation. First address, fault in distribution not commonly fault of lack of power for distribution as could be settled by use alternate sources, but by inadequate design of distribution system and incomplete use of distribution capacity to avoid potential damage to power converter switches. Imposed limitations to effective designs result use antiquated Gate Turn-Off Thyristor with expensive snubber capacitor power converters with low frequency AC at 50-60hz requiring larger
    • Unfortunately, it isn't easy to store electrical energy on a large scale. The wind doesn't blow harder, the sun doesn't shine brighter as the load increases. You have to use it as it is generated, and what will we do on a cloudy, calm day?

      Besides, this suffers from the NIMBY syndrome. Nobody wants it sitting in their back yard. Distributed small scale generation would improve reliability, but nobody wants an ugly, noisy diesel generator operating near their house. Small scale hydroelectric projects wo
    • by suss ( 158993 )
      The good would also be that this would cause NO POLLUTION.

      Yes, windmills and solar panels just appear out of thin air...

      Actually, these things have to be manufactured, a process which causes pollution.

      I recall the manufacturing of a solar panel takes more energy than it'll ever give back.
      • Re:a few thoughts... (Score:3, Informative)

        by afidel ( 530433 )
        That is true only of the most inefficient of solar cells like those used in solar calculators. For high efficiency cells that are produced today for power generation the energy payback for their building materials ranges from a few months to a year and a half. Considering a well maintained solar stack can last 25+ years you obviously are getting back many times more energy than you put in.
    • by yog ( 19073 )
      Conservation. What a concept.

      I read somewhere (can't find the ref, WSJ maybe) that California might have avoided its electricity shortage last summer simply by painting the roofs of all public buildings white.

      I would advocate solar cells and solar water heating systems mandated for all public buildings, and make a tax incentive to home owners to install them on new or existing properties. Add to that fuel cells in the basement to store excess power for use at night or in cloudy weather. (It should be no
  • Porr little you (Score:4, Informative)

    by GnuVince ( 623231 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:18PM (#6717068)
    As someone who spent 23 and a half hours without power, I'm thinking this is a brilliant plan!

    Wow, this must've been a real ordeal. It's not like some people in Quebec missed electricity for a month during winter 5 years ago. I mean, not having power for a whole summer day must be so bad...

    • It's the net withdrawl speaking.
    • Re:Porr little you (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ameoba ( 173803 )
      My thoughts exactly; while growing up ('burbs outside of Seattle), it wasn't uncommon to have multiple power outages during the fall/winter every year, each lasting 2-3 days. This was really fun since we were running on well water.

      I'm not talking out in the sticks, either. I'm talking about 45mi North of Seattle, right off the freeway.
  • If it were implemented like the internet...

    Ok, hold on... what I meant to say was, if it were implemented like the internet was supposed to be implemented. If the entire world was on one power grid, then a failure could be averted by pushing excess power to other locations, with multiple failsafe routes. Obviously the cause of the power failure was that transmission lines became over saturated, and generators could not pump their power anywhere (Electricity must be consumed the instant it's generated, unli
  • greed (Score:5, Funny)

    by L0rax23 ( 264813 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:20PM (#6717076)
    Once the grid is fully functional, the only excuse for power shortages will be greed.

    Good thing we don't hafta worry about greed!
  • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:20PM (#6717078)

    Why move electrons across a grid and have to worry about cascade failures, power station accidents, etc?

    The day will come, maybe in just a few decades, when every building has its own fuel cell, connected to a low-pressure hydrogen line.

    Yes, you'll still need to generate the hydrogen - but show me how you can get a cascade failure with that! Also, it's dramatically easier to generate your own small amount of hydrogen to bolster your commercially supplied hydrogen than to generate and store energy in batteries.
    • Yes, you'll still need to generate the hydrogen - but show me how you can get a cascade failure with that!

      Simple. One nitwit that can't read a sign. One backhoe.
      • As pointed out, that would not cause a cascade failure. Also, the 'nitwit' would not have to read a sign. If you're digging with a backhoe, it is your legal responsiblity to call One-Call a few days ahead of time.

        One-Call is a free system which will come by and mark out all known utilities on an area of land prior to any earthwork.

        Information on New Jersey's One-Call program []
    • There was a time in the 1950's or so when many people foresaw small nuclear power generators in every home. Now, hydrogen doesn't have nearly as many hazardous issues to deal with (that we know of) as nuclear power or even other current forms of energy, but household-based powerplants still seem a bit unlikely.
      • Now, hydrogen doesn't have nearly as many hazardous issues to deal with (that we know of) as nuclear power

        The dangers of nuclear power are overrated. I'd much rather have a Plutonium RTG in my basement than a hydrogen fuel cell (and associated fuel lines).
    • Why move electrons across a grid and have to worry about cascade failures, power station accidents, etc?

      The day will come, maybe in just a few decades, when every building has its own fuel cell, connected to a low-pressure hydrogen line.
      Yes, you'll still need to generate the hydrogen - but show me how you can get a cascade failure with that! Also, it's dramatically easier to generate your own small amount of hydrogen to bolster your commercially supplied hydrogen than to generate and store energy in batter
    • Not so sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by El Camino SS ( 264212 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:37PM (#6717518)

      The day will come, maybe in just a few decades, when every building has its own fuel cell, connected to a low-pressure hydrogen line.

      Ahhh, but the day will never, ever come where the laws of thermodynamics will stop, creating a way to not lose copius amounts of energy creating hydrogen. Can't get more out than you put in. Never going to so much as break even. Water is a very, very sound molecule. It doesn't even come close to trying to break it for energy. There is no energy solution, because we're talking the first law of thermodynamics, and we're talking basic science. Sounds great. "We've got whole oceans here!" So is it really going to be that much better if we went to it?

      What about other chemical processes? Unless you want wholesale ecological disaster in exchange for your Playstation 2 time, I cannot imagine it. Acids? Bases? What else just makes a LARGE, CONSUMABLE AMOUNT OF H2? It would be great for a camp stove, but what about whole cities?

      You can't flip a molecule and make water into hydrogen and oxygen so easily. Water is the ANTI-FUEL. It's not gasoline that is waiting to combust. It's a real nightmare to try to get the energy back. Electrolysis just doesn't cut it. We'd really need a magic bullet with hydrogen.

      Are hydrogen lines better than power lines?

      IMHO It's never been about the resource, it is all about the energy you consume. We need to learn to lower our overall energy usage. That is my solution to all of this.

      Hydrogen sounds like the greatest idea ever, too bad physics doesn't seem to back it up, at least right now.
      • sigh

        Ok, all of this is answered quite comprehensively in 20 Hydrogen Myths [] a paper by the Rocky Mountain Institute [].

        The short answer to your questions is this: you make hydrogen from methane. Why do you bother? Because in an electric car, hydrogen-from-methane is still twice as efficient as any other fuel source: i.e in dollars per vehicle mile, it costs half of gasoline. Why? Because electric motors are just much, much better than internal combustion engines, and probably always will be.

        Good enough? But
    • ...a low-pressure hydrogen line.

      OK, that's equivalent to an electric power system where every building is connected to a low voltage line. Highly wasteful, the amount of power wasted in the lines would be a significant percentage of the power used. it's the same thing with hydrogen, if you connect everything with small pipes the amount of power wasted in pumping the gas would be too much. If you want to reduce wastage in your hydrogen system, you would need large pipes, at high pressures, conducting large

  • by Nakoruru ( 199332 )
    It is very likely that the interconnected power grid has prevented far more blackouts than it has caused. The interconnected power grid allows for local failures to be mitigated by non-local resources being brought instantly into play.

    The blackout is far more likely the result of aging and inadequate infrastructure in the Northeast, and not the interconnected nature of the grid.
    • Right, we never hear about the number of times having the grid has prevented a blackout. One one plant has to shut down, the power is instantly brought in from another place to balance it all out.

      This cascading failure was a result of the grid trying too hard and failing. The grid should have cut off the first failed area, whatever it was, instead of allowing it to send its demands further down the chain. Some safety feature that was supposed to be there didn't kick in when it needed to... why it didn't is
  • Should Be Okay (Score:3, Interesting)

    by suwain_2 ( 260792 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:22PM (#6717094) Journal
    IMHO, if things were designed properly, all the power grids would be linked, but would be 'selfish' -- that is, if they started to reach their maximum load, they'd cut off surrounding areas. Kind of a "You can borrow some power from us, but only what we don't need."

    I think it's no different than the Internet -- the big backbone providers 'peer' with each other, giving each other transit. But that doesn't mean that big DDoS attack aimed at one provider will cripple the whole Internet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:23PM (#6717096)
    The problem is doing it correctly. Obviously NYC, Detroit, and a few other areas did not do it well. The grid in Massachusetts did what it was supposed to do.. Instead of feeding power everywhere else, overloading and shutting down, it set a limit and stopped where it should have, leaving some residents in Western MA without power, but overall did not fail like the flawed power systems in NY and elsewhere.
  • by mkweise ( 629582 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:23PM (#6717097)
    Nikola [] Tesla [] suggested a *wireless* worldwide power grid around (IIRC) 50 years earlier, and demonstrated the technology to make it posssible [].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:28PM (#6717126)
    Severe storms hit Memphis [] around 7AM on July 22. Hurricane force winds slammed the whole city, knocked over thousands of trees and power lines, damaged hundreds of homes/buildings, and immediately killed the power to 300,000+ buildings. Speaking of killed, I think the death toll wound up being 7, people died in fires started by candles, people died by carbon monoxide poisoning from generators, and one poor guy was crushed by a falling tree.

    And nobody cared. Friends and relatives in other areas didn't see it on the news and call to see if we were okay. We had to call them, because it wasn't on the news anywhere else. I was lucky enough to have a good friend in a part of town with power, and went to his place by the afternoon, we were sitting watching all the news stations. The only place we saw any reference to it was the tiny ticker at the bottom of CNN Headline News, one blurb about "Thousands without power after storm slams Memphis." I think the only reason CNN bothered is that they're based in Atlanta (in the south) instead of NYC.

    300,000 homes and businesses (more than half a million people in all) were without power for days. Most of us didn't see our lights come back on for 4-5 days. And it took more than 10 days to get everyone turned back on. But nobody noticed.

    If NYC loses power, it's an instant media blitz, with all the networks scrambling to make new imposing music themes and clip-art for "Massive Outage: Are Terrorists Responsible?" And now, days later, it's still the top headline everywhere. But when half a million Memphians lost power for a week, no one cared. I guarantee if Fedex had lost power they would have cared..
    • natural disasters == good reason for failing to deliver.

      stupidity(letting the grid age so that you have seemingly no idea what brought it down) == bad reason for failing to deliver.

      oh yeah, one lighting wouldn't count as a natural disaster. even a goddamn hurricane shouldn't cause power outage this big.

      you know, a 'smallish' natural disaster in usa isn't enough to have extra tv-news in finland, but when something so bizarre like the (25million?)outage happens we knew here in finland few minutes after it
    • If the ice caps melt in Florida, or there is a draught in Alaska, that would be interesting and newsworthy, yes? That's why NYC without power is so.. strange. All those people in the subway breathing toxic fumes (poor ventilation) in NYC, a bright city of all places!

      But what we don't want to hear about is stuff that we expect. Stuff like tornados and hurricanes in places where you chose to live. Yes, even when it happens in other places it's newsworthy, but the NYC thing was MORE newsworthy and strange
    • Devil's Advocate, but 50 million people lost power, not just NYC.

      For those not good with math, that's 100 TIMES as bad as what you're describing, although admittedly for a shorter period of time. I'd call it major news too.
  • BAD idea.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pair-a-noyd ( 594371 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:34PM (#6717162)
    When I was a teen in the 70's I went to visit some people that live in the desert of New Mexico.
    The dude and his wife were typical peacenic, hippy types, long hair, shaggy beard, robes and beads and, *a college professor*.

    Anyway, this couple dug a hole in the desert and built a log cabin in the hole. They then covered the cabin back over with the dirt from the hole so that from outside the place looked like a big dirt pile with windows.

    You walked down a flight of steps from ground level to the enterance, 12' below ground level.

    They had burlap on string for internal doorways.
    Everything ran on low power battery lamps that they charged from solar panels on a big tower outside. They also had a huge hot water tank buried undergound that kept near boiling hot water year round. There was a HUGE hottub that would seat about 15 people lined with turquiose tiles they collected themselves from the desert.

    Everything in there was handmade from logs, there was no store made furniture, just adobe and logs. The fireplace was about 3 feet thick and it was bloody hot even 20 feet away.

    I was in awe of the place, it was mega cool and I decided then that I wanted to live like that too. Ever since then I've been a strong advocate of non-polluting, renewable energy sources. I would love to see the world powered by solar and geo-thermal power.
    MOST of the methods in use today have horrific enviromental impact.

    Even wind mills have serious drawbacks. There is a place where they landscape is littered with the damn things, they are huge, ugly behemoths and they make a veyr low rumbling sound that the residents are saying is causing them ill effects. Most things that man produces cause someone or something serious problems.

    Imagine the world on solar power. Silent cars. No pollution. A clean sky to look at, clean air to breath. Quiet to enjoy, not noisy cars and trucks roaring around and stinking the place up, spreading more of the agents that cause cancer and other horrible diseases.

    And last but not least, when the people can generate their own power for free then there would be no need for parasitic energy companies like Con-Ed, Entergy, etc...

    The world is a parasitic circle jerk system, everyone screws the next little guy down the ladder and those at the bottom of the ladder are slaves for those above them. Those at the top are the oppressors and the tyrants.

    • Re:BAD idea.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by donutello ( 88309 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:26PM (#6717473) Homepage
      The world is a parasitic circle jerk system, everyone screws the next little guy down the ladder and those at the bottom of the ladder are slaves for those above them. Those at the top are the oppressors and the tyrants.

      You should seek professional help for your paranoia.

      Human society is a system where people collaborate to achieve more than they could by themselves. So instead of having to learn how to hunt and cook and make shoes and build a home and make clothes, people can specialize in a single skill, perform it more efficiently and achieve more collectively. Money is what you use to facilitate this trade.
  • by wardk ( 3037 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:36PM (#6717171) Journal
    not so sure I want my grid connected to this new york grid. at least right now I just get to read about the blackout, not participate. ;-)
  • by listen ( 20464 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:37PM (#6717178)
    Disclaimer: I work in the power trading business.

    This article has a few oddities. The idea that everyone will be connected to "one" grid is misleading. There will always be multiple grids, and interconnectors between them. This can be thought of similarly to ISPs peering arrangements.

    The article is really saying that it may be economically feasible to have extremely long interconnectors, eg across Siberia, the Atlantic, the Pacific, or up the length of Africa.

    I have some reservations with this. When power is transmitted, there is a loss through the resistance of the transmission lines. This clearly becomes more acute the longer the transmission. In most grids in europe, the costs of these losses ( and the requirement to cover them with reserve power) is built into the fees to become a trading company within those countries. There are exceptions -eg the UK -> France interconnector - there is ~ 1.5% loss which the trading party must bear. This is for a 26 mile link. So 3000 miles might be a bit hopeful... I can't be arsed to do the math, but...

    It is very hard to see how exploiting the varying liquidity of these markets would offset the huge transmission losses. Especially when compared to the ability to ship huge amounts of oil and gas in pipelines and tankers, with little loss, even at the expense of flexibility.

    If this is about some new technology for power transmission ( eg superconductors) this could be great.

    Australia could do pretty damn well by covering WA with solar. This could be transmitted to China, converting the Three Gorges Dam - an ecological crime, but its there, I've seen it ;-( - into partially stored hydro... could be interesting.
  • This proposal reminds me of Asimov's short story Sha Guido G [] in which the main character "saves humanity from oppression by overtaxing the generators of the flying capital city, crashing it to the ground and killing everyone on board".

    Seriously, it looks like the incentives to a potential terrorist of a successful attack on a worldwide power grid would be tremendous, so the security should be the very first priority. Which never is, of course.

  • So, instead of having less government intervention and destruction of the private market, we should have more, and decrease consumer-choice even further? What is really needed is a completely free market for power, free of regulations and open to fierce competition, not these super-socialistic programs.
  • Power loss (Score:4, Interesting)

    by erf ( 101305 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @12:59PM (#6717302)
    Power losses are too great to ship electricity over very far distances. It makes cross-continental power delivery very expensive and inefficient.

    A more-interconnected electricity grid will likely be one that is even less stable.

    There is a cure for all of this, in two parts: regulation and decentralization. Electricity regulation worked much better than the current insane system. Ask California and now the Northeast for details. Decentralization allows for waste heat from power generation to be used for heating, improving efficiency (i.e. your office building could heat & provide power for itself with a small on-site plant). Solar and wind (but esp. solar) can be easily added to residential buildings, further insulating homes from grid instability.

    More grids, more massive centralized facilities, less regulation: big power problems in the future. Guaranteed. Trying to do this on a world wide basis is general idiocy.
  • by TheViewFromTheGround ( 607422 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:06PM (#6717340) Homepage

    Geopolitically, a global power grid distributes risk and there are good reasons, hypothetically, to do so, particularly for mitigating the extremism that leads to violence. For example, if Iran, which has moderate tendencies, joins the grid, it would have a strong incentive to itself quash extermism precisely because if Iranian terrorists go Allah Mode in a place like France and try to knock out infrastructure, moderate Iranians, who make up the majority of the population, may suffer as well.

    The problem is that the major global powers have not indicated that they are willing to obey or respect any international law or organization. In Rwanda, France, who has lately championed the use of the UN in Iraq, aided and abetted the genocidal army over and against the UN force working in the region to save a few beleagured Rwandans. The United States has similarly revealed little or no inclination to respect the UN or other international "decision" making bodies on critical issues.

    Lately I've felt as if advocating isolationism makes some sense, and this power grid idea is a example of why: it seems likely that, like the U.N. and like a great deal of international law, the major powers will disingenuously support such structures for a variety of reasons (appearances, genuinely felt convictions and ideals, gains in prestige and power). Unfortunately, unlike the U.N., where flaunting it just means that geopolitics is like geopolitics without a UN, an international power grid is physical, and dependence on it and control of it could become dangerous and unwieldy.

  • OMG (Score:3, Funny)

    by sandalwood ( 196527 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:07PM (#6717343)
    A bad idea? In Wired Magazine!? Say it isn't so!
  • Not much to discuss (Score:3, Interesting)

    by serutan ( 259622 ) <snoopdoug AT geekazon DOT com> on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:12PM (#6717370) Homepage
    This article was pretty short and skimpy, certainly no earthshaking insights. Whether Buckminster Fuller or anybody else proposed it first, of course there will be a worldwide power grid eventually. Lots of things are evolving into worldwide nets, for example all the stock markets will be linked eventually. So the discussion veers into the merits of solar energy, living in a log cabin in the desert, etc.

    Ok, how about this: what would it take for the distribution systems of various utilities, not just electricity but things we all need at some level -- food, water, medicine, communication -- to evolve into networks with uniform, demand-driven price structures? And if that happens why not collect a uniform payment from everyone, eliminating all the effort spent moving individual beans around between individual piles? I'm not talking about socialism, I'm talking about a 100% efficient market. Is that possible?

    Networking spreads information uniformly. Could the business world as we know it even exist without the scarcity of information that enables one person to find a better deal than someone else?
  • by djk29a ( 642547 )
    A friend of mine from MIT was talking about one of the buildings there that was 18 stories tall but was on like 30 ft risers, and the wind gusts under there made it seem like a wind tunnel. Now, if we could cough up the money, we could get some wind power out of that and possibly provide some extra power to the building and cut costs in the long run. If EVERY home in the developed world ran a combination of solar and wind power, would we really need the electric companies? And no, I don't think it's actual
    • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @02:05PM (#6717668) Homepage
      You're describing Building 54, a 1960s design by I.M Pei, when the "building on stilts" idea was popular. While that worked well in Brazilia, where directing moving air down to ground level created cooling breezes in the plazas around the buildings, it was a terrible idea for Boston. When Building 54 was built, strong winds off the ocean would make the ground-level doors slam or be hard to open. This was very embarassing.

      The solution was an art object - that huge Calder stabile ("the Great Sail") in front of the building, designed in cooperation with aerodynamics experts to divert the wind.

  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:18PM (#6717405)
    In the UK. The electricity all comes from the same place of course and comes in through the same set of wires, but the electricity companies don't have a monopoly on the customers in their region.

    It means that I can do stuff like buy "green" electricity. I use the electricity, pay my green supplier and how they handle the generation, top up supply to the grid and inter company billing is completely up to them.

    e.g. ss_for_c hange/choose_green_energy/

    It'll be an interesting experiment.

  • by Ex-MislTech ( 557759 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:37PM (#6717526)
    For every mile of huge arm thick copper wire linking
    power plants across the nation, we could invest in
    local power plants based on technology similar to
    smith Cogeneration .

    There are other vendors out there as well, and throughout
    alot of the US natural gas is plentiful and affordable .

    Each mile of copper wire carrying 100,000+ volts and
    1,000's of Ampere lose alot of their power due to the
    natural resistance in the wire .

    The costs of the giant towers, and the huge copper wires
    is truly amazing, and could be better spent on local power .

    The Tranmission model allows for less human workers is
    its biggest cost savings .

    In a time with a job crunch, and a weak grid in California
    and the upper east coast, it is time to think differently .

    Smaller regional grids are less wasteful, and make more sense .

    10,000 miles of Transmission towers and wires must have
    cost billions of dollars . It may have been a good idea
    at the time, but the smaller Cogeneration model is better
    under current political, financial, and economic conditions .


  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @02:14PM (#6717737) Homepage
    Generating companies have gotten sloppy. After the 1967 blackout, generating stations were supposed to install enough backup power to be able to restart without cranking power from the grid. Yet we're hearing utility executives whining "We never expected to have to restart without power from the grid". Detroit and Cleveland were down for days. And that's with no major equipment damage. The slow restart is inexcusable. If this happened in winter, there'd be thousands of dead people.

    Since deregulation, there's no one to blame, of course. The invisible hand of the market is supposed to do it all. Generating companies, transmission companies, and retail delivery utilities are all separate organizations now.

    It's not really economic to have reliable electric power. Would you pay 20-30% more on your power bill for 99.99% uptime vs. 99.9% uptime? That's about what it costs.

    • monopolies (Score:3, Insightful)

      by waspleg ( 316038 )
      i think it's pretty obvious what the real problem is .. you're talking about executives who have localized power monpolies, and as they have no comptetion they have no incentives to give af uck outside of whatever the law absolutely mandates them to do.. this is the same reason why many areas still do not have cable modem access.. and heave to deal with absolutely retard phone companies

      monopolies destroy competition in the market and when that happens a market economy fails to be the most efficient which i
  • worldwide grid (Score:4, Interesting)

    by freq ( 15128 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @02:20PM (#6717763) Homepage
    Leave it to wired and you slashdot wankers to screw up a perfectly good idea.

    The worldwide power grid idea was detailed in fuller's book Critical Path [] and its not a new idea by any stretch (

    Yeah bucky was a ridiculous optimist, but the jist of this whole book (and his life's work for that matter) seems to be that if we can eliminate inefficiencies and work together on a global scale, there will be more than enough power/food/resources for everyone to live extremely well.

    Of course the wired people decided to drop their grid on a truly crap-tastic map which kills the whole point. take a look at the worldwide grid on bucky fuller's dymaxion map [] which shows the earth as one giant continent without distorting the relative sizes of the landmasses.

    Electricity demand is low on one side of the world at night, they send their excess capacity to the other side of the globe where it is day. and vice versa. same deal with summer/winter in the northern / southern hemisphere. of course we need to solve the sticky problem of transmission loss :)

    and if you are whining about being without power for a day someone needs to unplug your ass and send you outside for a little nature.
  • by frostman ( 302143 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @02:36PM (#6717852) Homepage Journal
    I've always wondered why urban places end up without local backup for infrastructure needs like power.

    In my home town (pop. 325) the power often goes out in the winter. When it does, most of the time they get the big old diesel generator up and running and the town has power again within an hour or so. Day-long blackouts are really rare, even if it takes them that long to find and fix the downed line.

    Is there some reason why cities can't have relatively local (say, block by block) emergency backup for things like power?

    Or is it just habit, or maybe just being cheap?

    I doubt the folks in Downieville [] have more money than the folks in [big city of your choice].
  • by Ex-MislTech ( 557759 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @02:55PM (#6717950)

    If you consider one loop at just 5,000 miles,
    and 3 strands one for each phase of AC ,
    then you are looking at 79.2 million ft. Transmission
    line .

    As the size of the wire goes up so does the resistance,
    and as the heat of the line goes up so does the resistance .

    Summer heat can cause "sag" which actually makes the
    wires longer for the equation as well .

    The only figure I have found is about .0025 Ohms per foot .

    So at optimal conditions we have 72.2 million ft. x .0025 Ohms =
    198K ohms and that is if you figure in Zero resistance
    in interconnection .

    198,000 Ohms * 1,000's of Ampere of current, you get the idea .

    All so we can build centralized power plants, and have
    lower staffing levels .

    Local power is honestly a better way to go, and I think
    deregualtion leads to corporate corruption .

    Ask Enron !


    • Bad Link (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ex-MislTech ( 557759 )
      That link I offered is not a very good one, here is
      a better one , with better numbers :

      9 - 15% loss is the overall factor they think .

      At 12 trillion watts of usage, that is a GREAT deal of power .

  • by VCAGuy ( 660954 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @07:00PM (#6719168)
    This all sounds well and good until we come down to the nitty-gritty of power engineering. Somehow, I don't think a 345kV, 60-Hz, 3-phase feeder is gonna cut the mustard in a 3,000 mile power link... But, ignoring that, there are many electrical standards in the world: 100V, 110/120V, 208V, 230V, 220/240V (which, in retrospect, wouldn't be much of a problem). What would be a problem is the whole 50/60Hz thing and the delta/wye issue. Not to mention that reinverting the power (or using rotary converters for that early 20th-century touch) would cause intolerable losses and clocking to ensure synchronicity of a world-wide grid would be...well...a mess.
  • by Gilmoure ( 18428 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @09:54PM (#6719868) Journal
    Here in Florida, we're on the same grid as the North-east and likely the rest of the south and midwest. It's one big grid from Canada down to Key West. The dominoe effect occurs due to how power is routed on the grid. Here in Florida, we're pretty self sufficient and usually sell power to the rest of the eastern US in winter, now that Crystal River Nuclear plant is back online.

The greatest productive force is human selfishness. -- Robert Heinlein