« Stuff You Should Know

How the Electrical Grid Works

2021-04-13 | 🔗

The electrical grid that provides power to the US is one of those things you don’t give a second thought to until it stops working – then it’s tough to think about anything else. Learn why this engineering marvel is past its prime and how to update it.

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which were vanilla, I'm a father, I'm a sensitive areas- and I have a pod- cares, call Roy job. This show is their possession for anybody who is looking for work was to slap somebody at work always higher and somebody to work for them so that the visually they can slap you to one part laughs. One part inspiration. I cannot wait to welcome you to royal job. I heart radio apple pie CAS or wherever you get, your pockets Welcome to stop. You should know a production of Iheart Radio free and overcome the podcast term. Josh fuzzy. Clark in Theirs shot. Zip these f B. I hid the two of us song to come up them were stupid. Electricity based names, Jerry
Jerry's media the gone yes she's we'd another zapped off into the ether absent. Who knows how we should call rural Chuck, ok, yeah Josh, here Chuck present Jerry. Jerry she's. Not here he did. I just had a shower today for the first time in a few days, because we didn't have water at our house, no and I put this on. The movie crushers page is to get some feedback as I would you rather not have power or water, and that kind of figures ended. Episode and right, you know ninety eight per The people are very sensible and said, would much rather not our power than water yeah. But there were a handful of psychopaths that said they'd rather be has just buying. dozens of gallons of water to to flush toilets, and chance in not bathe.
At? What point of our point, though, of course without water and may be reached. This point you can tell me, do you Do you like well we're just gonna save water in digger, dig a pit in the back of a dream, Well, I mean we were letting the yellow mellow. You know what I'm saying we're glad you know the brown you get a flush down, but you should trademark there and it really hits home how much water a toilet uses when you have to fill it up here with those huge like Arrowhead have gallon jugs here and it's just shameful, but you know I was happy to take a shower. I gotta tell you yeah, Are you go through three of those five gallon jugs before you realize that you're accidentally stepping on the handle and they're just going right down the drain? And you like man? This is not my week, but this isn't about water. It's about power which
so. That's a really good question, and I am not surprised that the you got the response that you got from it because, like we, we tend to think of. Like you know, lecture cities are really nice modern luxury, and that is basically not the case. Any more firm, most of the climate in the United States, city is an absolute necessity is not a luxury like you need it to survive, in the modern world. You could try to do that. Take his ins key thing: go off grid people do successfully. But even then, if you look into what they're doing, I would guess something in the neighbourhood of ninety percent of those people are still using something like solar power or wind power. They just aren't connected to this grid that we're gonna talk about a year, and I should caviar the question I posted the movie. Crushers was whether aside, like obviously in the hot hot summer, people can
do die from outages and in the winter they do as well, but it was you know that was case you're an outline of what is called the yeah. It is called the I mean, not deadly cold, but a gig. Its deadly called once in a while here, but even beyond, like heating and cooling justice stay alive, like electricity So in your woven with our lives that, do you know you you're, like ok, I can wash dishes by hand, you know it's not my preference, but whatever or you know I can. I can use no gas, power law more and so the electric glamour, but there's also like. Can you keep up in school or at work without you knowing atrocity there like it's. It's really do, sir. It's a fundamental society is in modern industrial life and dumb. We get this based on this huge sprawl. lying rickety old, black and white cartoon donkey of
engineering marvel that we call the electrical grid? It's crazy, held together with, like duct tape, a bubble gum. This thing is, but it's still there early, delivers the juice horse, yeah, and it is funny how we it so like power in water, and you know here in the United States is so ingrained is just something we can take for granted. When you don't have it the only time you notice and like the only funding about the past few days was hearing Emily screw from another room, because you know your insight, is. Oh, I have a dream: my fingers them watch it off This hearing her like flick. You know some Fawcett or something somewhere in the house in her over the past three days. think comes out, because you just forget, say when the powers off your constantly for Switching, I hate life, not their yeah, what but that's why you ll see in a lot of different like power companies, aims. The word reliability Vieira
key. Like you can't have you know an electric company, that's kind of like the work of a lot of the time. You know no credit for that. Take no people wants you to work. Basically, a hundred percent of the time I want to set up a company called partial credit ratings are exactly what you want. You want the full credit when the real, ambitious types that, like great with her hand, shoot up into the air it every question: that's the kind of energy company you want to We talk about this big antiquated system yeah. So, like I said considered a modern marvel in part of the reason. Why is concerned a modern, modern marvels? Just from its sheer enormous size, yeah I mean big time we're talking eighteen thousand generators, and in this case it is regenerating the power like a coal plants or national natural gas planter, a wind farm, not gonna, thing sure fifty five,
thousand sub stations transmission sub stations? And will we talked about this before and we'll get to it later? But this is when here, stepping up in stepping down power to get it in and out of your house. I guess not out of your house. It only comes in at depends You have a good solar re in like a power company that wants your said. I can only access that Israel has six hundred and forty two thousand miles of transmission lines to lie six with three million miles of distribution mines, and these are like the power poles unless you're lucky enough to have Reed power line. I know it looks so much better they are doing that actually in our neighbourhood. Finally, now and they approached us, a dollar figure to say: can we put this huge big, green thing in your front yard, and we said thank you. No yeah try someone else. Yet you like not these neighbours. We like them, but three doors down. They really sucks, so try them well
somebody it doesn't have to go in or yard. So I think there is taking volunteers who want to make a little scratch, but you can't like plant is in front of it or anything in our front yard is very exposed. It would look really bad yeah. What we'll talk about what those are, but they are seriously dangerous too. You end up getting into one of those that want things kids plan on the time yeah, it's crazy. Those are real, he really dangerous. Basically, many power stations are transforming ass. They just happened. I like on the ground, rather than upon a pool where everybody used to him yeah ammunition. Can a bad at first, because I thought it might not doing my part to make sure our neighbourhood gets buried, but they said You know there does have to go there and they can just that their allotted but there are gonna want that would have raiment money was it where they live. Ok, well, you know, we understand your decision, but we noticed you have an empty lot behind your little Aachen, What are you doing what's funny? What we found out once we assumed that that property to
Your squatting on the two weeks later Georgia Power got in touch with them. So now I know if I may, that joke but that was exactly what was going to happen right yeah for this, not a joke. I know, but I was joking about how close she came and goodness me all right. So let's talk than the nation wide network, and when we're talking about this, keep in mind we're talking about the Or forty eight hours Hawaii and Alaska have their own grids and systems yeah there were strangely left out of this. The poor, poor dears. Yet, but we're think about them, but on the were forty eight. We have basically three big separate grids that are called interconnection and really should just be too
There should be a user interconnection which is basically everything west of the Rockies, your east of the Rockies, the lot of the great plain states up to the northeast, the southeast. All as the eastern connection, then you get the western interconnection witches west of the Rockies, and then you get Texas. Those are the three and connections of the United States electrical grid. Here's my question is: it is tat is literally no longer connected at all. No that's did I like it. The big nobel about the whole thing there connected to a garden everybody there connected to Mexico. Mexico save their took us in two thousand. Eleven there connected every buddy they just somehow or being left out of the law. It's ridiculous now that they are connect and yet with like Boca. Yes, because I was going to say is that the lower for, seven but technically they are connected, but there does taxes
detective now and there's even this exactly right and then there's even parts of taxes, including El Paso, in some parts of the pain handle that our can the two either the eastern or the western interconnection, but most of Texas by far is its own yet unit, action, its own separate, ninety percent, rid yeah you know, you're more than that, I would say, is Polly closer like ninety five or ninety eight percent, like almost all of it, ok right well! This is good, though, that work intercourse did and their lot of big benefits to that, chief of which is probably reliability, because when you have such an inner, acted grid. You can work, other and there's a lot of backups and redundancies built in. So if there's a big demand in one place serve power goes down in one place. You can re route. And have get some help from your neighbors, basically right exactly and there actually came about as will see from a little bit of deregulation, but also a kind of developed from from power
realizing like all talk about sentiment, is also flexibility right. So if you have like a bunch of different source, is so you get a wind farm off shore in in Florida and then you I also have a you're getting power from like a dam in Georgia and all providing power to the southeast, and you have all sorts of coal fired power plants, nuclear power, but you can kind of put together New energy portfolio and all of them are providing electricity grid. So the fact that its interconnected, it can accept electrical production from generators all over the place and from different varieties in types, but as far as your concern, it's all just it all just turns into electricity after its generate right and then the last advantage is affordability and this kind of what you were hinting at. You know deregulate. in short, it had has giveth and taken away in some ways:
starting in the eightys. The grid was opened a wholesale petition in peace. Power companies started investing in certain the agencies and that made that did really make alike city, affordable in the? U S but also when it comes to like like insulating pipelines like taxes did not do It makes companies more reticent to invest in money like that cause. They're, like you know, Why would we want to online our pockets? Radio I'd say you put all this stuff together, you put the our generation plants. You put the train, mission lines. You put the distribution networks. Then I'll go into like people's homes and businesses and an end up as like an hour later socket or something like that. In that all together, all those components is the electrical gritted and that's that's it so, let's take a break and dumb all come back and talk a little bit about the history of the grid. About that must do it again.
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well sort of sea. Many people may not realise that health insurance isn't typically designed to cover all their medical expenses, really yeah. All over the country. People can get here with unexpected medical bills. Even something as simple is going to your doktor can leave you with expenses. Your health insurance may not cover wow. I never really thought about that. Yeah. That's why there's f lack they can help. Give you an additional layer of financial protection. It's like a safety net for unexpected medical bills, so you can focus on getting better. You won't be as caught off guard if an unexpected medical bill hits exactly. F. Lack pays cash to help with expenses, health insurance dozen cover will, but the real question is: can you use that cash for other everyday expense
you sure, can you can use the money. However, you choose to help with things like CO, Hazan, deductibles order even help pay your dog walker. If your to injure the Walker Dog man that sounds like a pretty sweet deal, it absolutely is so to see how a flat can help with expenses. Health insurance doesn't cover, learn more at Aff lack dot com. That's a El Ac dot com. Chuck. Also, We talk about the history on indirect everybody, to what I think is one of our better science based episodes, how electricity works yet again, when we cover some of this stuff in there, but
like we really got into electricity. It was electrify. Do you ve laughed? No, I'm disliking cause you're my friend links I get plenty of right. I guess you're in a different place about a year that jerk, where we in the same report back in you learn from, ass one. So in any we talked like you said it, Part of this and electricity, but our He is power. Grids were built in the eighteen eighties and they are all very local and specific, and this the time and place when Edison in Tesla doing it out in a very public, sometimes a grotesque way to prove that their in Edison's case Deasey Systematic Teslas Aisy. Alternating current system was better and gruesome, meaning electrifying large animals, no man there s Obi galleries,
say that right, yeah yeah he should go down in history- is realising that yeas terrible guy. In that respect for sure a similar one out in large part, due to a lot of financial backing from George Westinghouse right, but not just that like director it was better in some ways, but it also has some serious disadvantages to alternating current, which was the Tesla Westinghouse version and dumb talk about exactly why budgets in a remember their alternating current is way better for long distance transmission. The fact that we went with alternating current meant that we could create this huge, extensive grid with hundreds of thousands or millions of miles of transmission and distribution line. That's all thanks to Nicholas Teslas, alternating current etc. So early part of the twentieth century. There were about four thousand individual electric utilities with all these, any grids and then
we're two roles around and there's a big spike in demand for more power, because it was just after or too there was a big boon, lots and lots of new appliances in fancy new things that the power and the smaller little independent grids, looks each other and said I guess we gotta hold hands now and start working together to meet this demand yeah there is this really big push to electrify America. Sdr took up pretty early in his presidency, and he like took on these really like powerful electrocuted, and got a bunch of black eyes as a result of it, but ended and winning passing the federal power active team, thirty, five, which basically put a leash on the arm the holding companies that there is like a hand. For very large, powerful holding companies that basically ran electricity in the United States
and they weren't really innovating. They weren't doing much too, to electrify the. U S federal government got involved in basically took over, going to regulate you guys from now on in the United States, became very much electrified, like as a whole country, but in return this. It wasn't just the nanny state taking away from the corporate state. They said about this one. give you guys, monopolies at work Keep a really close eye on and we're going to regulate strongly, but you guys can make your costs back and a reasonable profit. And yellow owning. An electric company became like printing, your own money, you, you know, like you had so many customers that you're making gobs of money every year, Europe, your growth, the growth of the growth of the entire industry, was about eight percent each year. That's good, and it was also money in the bank. They knew America was is to keep consuming and consuming and consuming. So they would.
More more power plants- and they were just gonna- sit back and collect eight percent a year and really, rebellious happier, lot innovation and everything, but why other things that these different powered monopolies. learned early on is that everyone expected power on demand, twin four hours a day. If somebody wanted to plugs their vacuum cleaner in it three I am, they better have power, There wasn't like downtime that these guys could factor in and, as will see, there was no storage capacity that's something that we need to get that we don't have, which means that power has to be generated constantly, and you also have to back up power was really really expensive to build a backup power station, and so these early companies figured out that They could by power from other rival companies. They had some surplus right, then cheaper and it would be for them to generate it or to build a backup generating plant and in this way,
The early independent grid started to connect to one another kind of buying sell power is needed and this kind of wholesale power market developed and that's where the grid started to connect together. right, and we should also point out that in nineteen thirty five with the past The federal Power ACT, that's when taxes said nay yeah we're we're gonna. Do our own thing! We're gonna make our own power. We're gonna, keep our own power and we're gonna have our own, our own body, to oversee it called the earth caught the electric reliability Council lived exit millions of listen, just my blue they created at nineteen seventy and they manage about ninety percent of the grid in Texas, and we use a lot of power in this country. I think the Eu S consumed couple years ago and twenty nineteen point nine trillion kilowatt hours, which is about thirteen thou. in kilowatt hours per human and
like other it's gotta, be the most in the world. There is about doesn't countries ahead of us, but those are countries where it can get really the cold, are really really hot, not places like the United States Where- comparatively the other places like us. We use a lot more per person. Yes, so thirteen thousand kilowatt hours per person sounds like a lot and it is a lot by in Iceland they use. Fifty three thousand until a war hours per person on average, they gotta hit those soundness and that crazy, but a front for in their defence there making most their electricity from geothermal right, Sir, who cares uses micro city, as you want, and then we I know some of our other listeners. Don't you live in the? U S, so Canada actually beats the United States in per capita consumption. These fifteen point, six thousand kilowatt hours Australia's better added than we are. They use ten thousand New Zealand nine thousand kilowatt hours and then do for our three german listeners.
Seven thousand kilowatt hours, and then in the UK. I think it's about five thousand kilowatt. I exactly local men knew what was that cover? I think I are hidden camera. I think it's like the opening. I just know cabaret from my kids greek right thing here, I mean why don't you worry about yeah? That's what I'd seen most of cabaret from the episode of Shit Creek, Emily, no, both like we need this. He cabaret, though, now due to certain watching them, what we do in the shadows again, from the division: yes it so it's one of the best comedies I reported on television sort of a rare cases. Making a movie that changing the cast up for television, and it's just as good here,
yeah, I wouldn't be was great. The tv shows great I I'm after me, I haven't seen all of the movie, but from what I saw the movie, I prefer the television Ella them both forget six months after the tv show. We- walk round. The house saying this a thing? Guy, that's like if every day that we saw every single character in those two so per is great. Thank you, people who made what we do, and I think it is wonderful so as far as what we use that power for here in the states and This is lower forty eight, who knows what they're doing yeah, but thirty percent of that power. Consumption is Nigel people, like you, when I or you and me, and we bulk of that is forty. Four percent of that is is in calling our homes and making hot water maker towers pressure or washing dishes and in the rest, is you know, running
lines is charging your laptop. That kind of stuff, yet the other sixty one Five percent is non residential, stuff, commercial things like office buildings and then industrial, which is mostly used for running motors, because America loves its lathes I thought of their earlier, and I was like oh yeah. I've seen pictures of late accidents before so I spent a good twenty minutes. Looking at least accident photos o my lord. I do not recommend, but I didn't see that come in up when I started researching. This pays. Delays back in the industrial arts and high school did once I found a hotel you're. So things were. I would never go near near one that you have all baseball bat made by someone else now I serve out there part of my life so the good. The good news is with energy efficiencies. They really come a long way over the past couple of decades that the whole
energy STAR programme and just appliances being made much more efficiently than they used to be it's only gonna increase, I think, the demand by one percent a year from now to twenty fifty, which is good, but that's it. thirty. One percent increase is alive, but its astounding that, as we keep consuming more and more electricity, and we do we- we use a lot. They figure these Americans are nuts, is gonna, keep consuming and consuming we'd better forget how to make our stuff more energy efficient and that they ve managed to offset all. But one per cent of that growth, a year, because I can only imagine if we were still working with you. No nineteen thirty's thirty I'll blunders and vacuum cleaners. Good Lord, we beat second, the cold clean out of the earth like straight into your vacuum. Cleaner, it be so use so wasteful,
yeah and I imagine that they are always working on this. Like I assume the goal is to have the negative number there. Don't you think from your lips, the gods ear chuck They wouldn't be great if they're like it, go down by two or three percent per year. I am No, that would be great, that's actually, hopefully we're gonna talk a lot about how to fix the grid and one of the suggestions as to create the smart grid, and one has been components of it- is to basically allow you and me we or I in the medium to see how much electricity we use through interface, that are similar like online banking like we would, we would be in We would be aware in managing our electricity use with that. Level of like minute interface right and that by doing that, we would start to consume. Less would be certainly less.
is wasteful, so it's possible that we might go down compared to like twenty twenty levels. Who knows maybe great it would be wonderful one of the big changes about, I think like basically of the nuclear and renewable resources we have in this country are consumed most of it, for creating energy and to think about a third of natural gas natural gas is been a big boon. We didn't Odin tracking and what you want about it. But there is a lot more natural gas. Now it is where the cost gas fired general There are cheaper to build. They burn cleaner than cold you by half their more nimble. They can respond quicker to big enough Susan demand. So it's gone up, think from ninety to twenty nineteen from twelve percent of our energy mix to thirty eight percent year, and we should probably to safer for this closure
we are deeply underwritten as a pot cast by both Enron and Exxon or so heads up on their own regular tops. Yes, so when you do generated electricity you're, not actually what we don't cry. Energy were electricity and energy carrier right, which is why it's like it all turns into the same. Thing from all these different sources, but the people who run. The grid of figured out like there's specific kinds of gender. some plants you want to run. There is basically three of them. One is base load, which is your average say. Usually fire power plant, that's running almost all the time and that provides the van Majority, the electricity that's being consumed at any given point than theirs following plants, it you're at this time natural gas power plants, but they may overtake gas colony nice. At some point, those are a little more than a little
frequently run if you like, I think we're in needs more some more juice cause. It's Christmas, Simon, arise, get their lights up, you might spark up the old load load following plants and then, lastly, there's one called Peter plants like a p like a peak capacity where, when you start this up your bed Equally, like burning diamonds, it's so expensive to run these things, and that means that this, the demand is gone crazy and the prices are when sky high so turn up the Peter plants, because we need that extra capacity, yeah, just quickly to take through where we get the rest of these. The rest of the fuel sources as a natural gas is thirty April cause twenty three nuclear, twenty windows, seven hydroelectric, is seven. Biomass is two percent solar. One point eight percent, which is still pretty low, considering how many people have gotten on that train, I would say it's objectively shameful, yeah that nice to see that number go up.
but there are a hundred and forty five million households and businesses, Added to this grid and the? U S and the reason it all works, and we talked about this is still amazing to me how it works. We talked an electricity, but the ability to send electricity over long distances and step up and step it down to make it power. Europe coffee machine is a modern miracle. It's amazing Ryan, that's one of the big advantages of altering current electricity is. I guess you can do it with these. But it's way more difficult way more expensive. So, for all intents and purposes it it's a sea that you can step up in step down Well, when you do that, you didn't because current, which is the flow of electrons like down a line is inversely proportional to what's consultant,
right now it's a little confusing it is voltage, is kind of like the pressure you put on a line like the pressure of the flow where the, where the current is the actual flow right. And if you have a very high current of electricity, You are, unfortunately, get a lot of resistance on the transmission lines, and when you have a lot of resistance, you lose a lot of electricity to heat, but fortunately fur power generators. If you up the voltage right up there pressure that you putting on the line and actually decreases the current, and if you decrease the current thing, you decrease the energy loss, so they figured out that if they can take, you know when they generate the stuff, it power plants, it's like two thousand volts, maybe up to twenty thousand volt, but then they step up the voltage to hunt
of thousands of votes. I think some transmission lines are able to take about seven hundred and fifty thousand volts witches. That's amazing! It is like, if you get shocked by like as electrical socket in your house. That's a hundred. Twenty votes. This is seven hundred and fifty thousand volts. The current goes down dramatically that you lose almost none of the electricity over very, very long distances of transmission. So that's really a huge benefit of alternating current that you can step up and then, when you get toward neighbourhoods and stuff, stepping back down ya, think It is about six percent of electricity generated in the United States, which that's a fairly low number, but I think there always trying to make that better. Yeah, because I mean let's see somewhere where's that number there's a. We do something like thirty: five, no four and a half trillion
kilowatt hours Argento. it is in the United States, so sickly suspended added. He asked that's an astounding amount of electricity. That's lost any improvement on. That would be huge, yet they be great. So in your house like he said you have, here in the states we have a hundred and twenty votes, so you had these sub stations it step. It down to about twelve thousand Then it goes to your power lines and then those in others gray it sort of Cylindrical Cannes in the top, of the things that those are very important. They step down even further to about two forty them at the time you get into your house is down to one twenty in your eyes, but Sayer cooking with gas cookin with electricity. Nice so those gray can transformers are the same thing. Is that green death box at the? in your front yard, except the Green death box
pattern front yard Mount transformer, that's for underground power lines. The gray cans are for overhead lines, but they do the same thing. They step it down to a much less deadly and much more usable voltage of electric here, we have a lot of you know Atlanta says a lot about it just period, because we have eight it's a city in a forest and we have a ton of trees it's not really old trees like most of the not most but of the old oak. He's in Atlanta are coming down at the very least. Large limbs are coming down and it's a problem. So my neighborhood, especially we alot of black out so correctly, this bearing the lines project will work out pretty well yet the tree thing it's it's important. kind of part of that whole reliability, thing is, will see, is keeping trees, trimmed away from power lines here, which is why a power they might not on your door. Windy and say
we need to take up a lot of your trip back and you have to say ass, well, yeah, baby They might not even say that to my to show up and start cutting your tree and then be like what are you going to do about it and I'm just like that was uncalled for Should we take another break, sir, before you another fight with a power person. Yet I started at Chuck we'll take a break and come back and talk about all this gobbledygook a little bit more Hey friends if your business owner, whose hiring you probably face a lot of challenges when it comes to finding the right person for your role? Yes,
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stuff for twenty five percent off. so you mentioned earlier the monopoly situation that was broken up, largely because the energy crisis of the nineteen seventies- and we said he- what's open it up. Let's get the market go in and get some palliative pricing, happening and everyone did that not everyone in the southeast. We still have a lot of the big big utility companies, but they still needed some sort of oversight and there are a lot of different ways that these things are regulated if you like, the state level,
you're gonna be regulated by a public utility commission or a public service commission and then, when you start horse trading in Alabama, says the Georgia hey. We need some power and you, like it. I'm getting some power from Tennessee right now hold on the other line. That's got to be regulated. said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Foresees those transactions. The farc- yes, efficacy, so they're supposed to his will see they, they Father and the job kind of frequently and huge catastrophic things happen when they do but yes, so when they started to be regulated, especially in this sector deregulated in the seventies Strangely enough, it was Jimmy Carter's administration who opened up competition. You would think Bennett squarely Ronald Reagan, kind of thing, but Carter did it to encourage conservation of energy and to create that competition to see who could who could do
nevertheless this stuff in kind of innovate. More just basically shake up the stodgy old energy com. The knees, but the problem is remember- I said like it was money in the bank. You could just kick back and expect eight percent you're over year every single year, people just gonna keep using electricity. All of a sudden there is a totally new mindset in America, which has woah were using way too much electricity and energy we need to conserve, and now all these companies started kind of losing money and where they serve whose money they stop doing important things like cutting down trees cutting now off tree limbs or sir missing their lines is much like all the stuff that made them more reliable. To stop happening quite is frequently, and so he started to see things like enormous massive blackout said you know, affected millions of people for days where you didn't really see that that
before I think the first one ever was in nineteen sixty five, but the really big ones to certain coming more frequently around about two thousand. I think that was kind of kicked off by California energy crisis. And then you know we are talking about the regulatory bodies. Those were just for the public utilities themselves and then he had- transmission networks and they to be managed as well and, I think, Fork stepped in and said we Some sort of independent management and oversight here has basically We gotta make sure that everyone has equal access to the grid right in these interconnections that we talked about the three interconnections They are divided about divided up into more than a dozen independent, on profits, There are called regional transmission organizations, are independent system operators and and the idea there is there just there now, For the money there there too can really just make sure everyone is being treated fairly and do,
thing right that everybody has access to the grid, that's supposed to get access to the grid, but also its there. Also the modern incarnation of those power pools where, like like utilities, would do it by and sell power to one another as needed. These are the groups that kind of oversea those transactions right. So you mention the grid failing in California,. I was there at the time- and I remember in These rolling blackouts, California, in the late nineteenth and early two thousands early art, had to institute emergency rolling, blackouts and I remember when I was living there- a couple of It was all over the news. You know it's a big big news and I remember what times like you know, losing power because they despair do yeah. So there was a, I guess: California, Enron, actually makes an appearance every time there is a huge colossal black out, you can trace that its origins.
A couple years to Enron lobbying to get somebody de rate to get things deregulated, get a wholesale market built up. They managed it in California and California found itself in this weird position where the really big utility companies like p d and e or Southern California Edison, were they they were capped at how ouch. They could charge retail for energy for electricity, but at the same time, in this new wholesale market. They, had to buy electricity and it wasn't being regulate. Member I said there are sometimes fall down on the job while they weren't regulating this wholesale market. California, like they're supposed to, and so one day in the summer one month I should say starting in June, of of two thousand, the wholesale prices went through the roof. It went from about thirty
box the year before two three hundred and seventy five bucks and megawatt our in two thousand and eight. The sudden pidgin is having to pay through the nose for this energy, but they can't pass the the cost the right to their customers, and yet there also legally obligated, to continue to put to provide electricity to their customers. They found themselves in this impossible situation. Some people still today say that they turned off the power because they didn't have the supply They stay swear that they did not do that and that they just ran out a supply because they can get it any longer. Well, yeah and as a result, peony in Southern Cal Edison. They were financially strap They were in a situation where they had ended an energy suppliers in surrounding states that were like and yet many guys are in trouble, but I don't want to see him stuff, because I know that I'm gonna get paid back now, right so powerful. Was in a bind in the early arts.
And There are also technical problems and stuff. I think there was low water levels in the Pacific Northwest, which was huge California. At the time I don't know. If there is different now they were not self sufficient. Wise. They depended on the surplus of other states yeah. So you know if there was low water levels in the Pacific, northwest it's less electricity being sent, sounds and they also basically heavies high voltage power lines from southern California, the northern California and crashing, they were failing because they were just overburden. Basically, so they said we got it. These rolling blackouts and I think the biggest? One was March two thousand. affected about one point: five million customers yeah, like you, said that they, these independent energy producers, wouldn't sell them Trinity, because I didn't think they're going to pay back the whole thing. Finally, ended when the governor had the, though water board, the State Water Board,
by energy electricity on behalf of them, because the state was you know, the state had a good enough credit to buy electricity, but there are two biggest electricity utilities didn't have enough credit that crazy governor back radiator, remember gear Great Davis owes like was that the Gulf later. No, I think he was just after great Davis. Wasn't me, and then I saw it was hard sorts actually, the governor yeah for you. before new for years, I mean that was after I left just yeah. That was just after I left here. He was. He was cheese, two thousand three to this at the same time, the Jesse. The body Ventura, was the governor of Minnesota. No way. Man, all we need of his car weathers is the governor of Georgia and dumb barely, paper here now: in predator. Here, ok
I care murmured, the guy who play Billy her, maybe, the predator have predator. Was president in those days, I it's in the movie, so long, a better, better hold up yeah I saw unless for years, and it does not, Then there was a big black out in the northeast. I remember this one as well in two thousand three. This was time. This is fifty million people in the: U S, and even parts of Canada lost power for a couple of days in some case, eleven death in this one like it was like a movie or something how this one started. Yeah the there was member. I said that cutting kind of fell by the wayside a little bit when they are making as much money. Well, that's what happened here. It was, really really hot and there is a lot of demand in those lines- were just blazing so much so that they actually serve to sag, like the the atomic composition of the metal. Was put under the
much stress and they sagged and do a tree brim a tree branch and art was is basically like lightning is produced right. there's a teenager in Ohio who noticed the thumb. His outlets were smoking throughout his half loose, and it just so happens that there was a tree cutting through outside of his house on the other side of the street, and he ran tell him, and they basically told to get lost and hours and hours went by and there was a bunch of cascading powerful which normally would have been caught right, but there is some human error involved. Yet this was for the movie part. I mean it might as well, then, like a rat chewing on a wire something there was theirs monitoring software that like that is usually ok, emergency something's going on, but the software being quality and so a technician with, I guess, hike, mustard, stains on a shirt turns it after,
to fix it and forgets to turn it back on yeah, that's crazy, yup, and so because the power grid is especially in a connected up in the north is this power outage in Ohio meant that there was power outages in Albania and Elsewhere- and I think, did you say, eleven people died, Eleven people died. So you know the EU. the federal regulator stepped in and recite. We need a catchy. the slogan to improve this until about, three ts, trimming, training and tools, Then everyone roll their eyes, said whatever Burma here will, we'll get on those treaties. They did it sweet. the volume up on Wichita Alai men, which is the only Sunday ever less nothing. Over and over again, the forty was did sweet nice. So now taxes and tax- we're not literally in taxes but
in Texas, now and spirit, because very recently, a big frequent. Storm head and, as everyone knows, and everyone needed a lot more heat than they usually do this time of year in Texas. I think they use require about sixty seven thousand megawatt today in the winter, through they plan for yeah compared to eighty. Thousand megawatts in the summer- and all of this makes sense when I'm saying like you're, wrong taxes, not you know being ready for this weird freak storm. I mean that was the key of it, but you? U S added it, take the consideration that, like we said, of those lines weren't insulated, like they should have been because of money and wind, dollars. I can work as well in the winter anyway and I think those when farms weren't when rises. Well, right, yes, own did apparently, as surprising number kept spinning by the then. The big problem was the gas pipelines freezing over. So instead of Thee
planned for sixty seven thousand megawatts of power they ended up with. Thirty one thousand because of those yours in the actual system, so they had thirty, thousand megawatts. They needed a lot more than that. They probably about fifty thousand more megawatts than they had and all the sudden power just started going out in Texas. firstly, is unconnected anything. So Texas went dark and remedies, thirty, get very cold and couldn't cook and couldn't Couldn't boil water couldn't take showers, do basically live in a very. They lived in a very dangerous situation, because this is freezing temperatures, and these areas are not set up for that kind of thing. yeah. If you wanna get year, feathers ruffled, and get a little riled up to read this New York Times article about the exorbitant power bills that some of these people got. Yeah
that were able to stay online. There's a sixty three whole army that who had to pay sixteen thousand dollars for his monthly bill, which wiped out his in you're savings a lot of people or reportedly, including this guy customers of a company called greedy gee? I did he. While I mean eleven a name like that, but they provide electricity, a wholesale prices and they did with greedy. Is it really quickly changes based on supply and demand, so they sell it to the customers as hey we're, gonna past wholesale price directly to you for a load, nine, ninety nine monthly fee and the rates gonna fluctuate, but really no big deal because it fluctuates just so reasonably they saw this huge jump coming apparently, and they encouraged there numerous twenty nine thousand people to switch to the provider when the storm came with
is just not that easy to do right and a lot of it is through an app alot of people like literally connected to their bank, so people would literally watch eighteen yeah well thousand dollars drain out of their bank account before their very eyes, and they can anything about it. And the architects of the Texas Energy GRID, his name, where's it here, William Hogan. He said you know at this thing is it worked exactly like it was supposed to because high prices reflected market performing as it was designed and he said ass. He get closer in court to the bare minimum, these get higher and higher, which is what you want ways they arise nickname Milton Friedman How heartless. But yes, it's true in fact, but it's pretty heartless way to look at it in a year Governor Abbot, has stepped in and said, like you wait a minute, but we can't people can be going broke like paying for like three and four
years worth of energy in a single miles. That's the opposite of what they ve. George W Bush said when he was governor of TAT the ninety ninety eight he passed a bill. That said, you have to pay however, the that energy company charges you as a consumer yeah, so a measure whether gonna do if they can retroactively reimbursement people, but it some that's horrifying man. Sixteen grand I know, especially when taking direct links. This isn't even like that. I will hold on hold on where I'm not going to pay this. Yet I want to talk to psoriasis. Like that's gone now I have to go: try to get it back, yeah, that's terrible stuff! So sorry, Texas, that that happened, the other thing about it chuck to is, like you know, yeah they they weren't prepared for it, and it was a freak winter storm that just died
happen, but a lot of people are saying: hey welcome to the age of climate change. This arises a freak storm anymore. The stuff of it is actually going to keep happening Area Texas Head virtually this, thing happen in two thousand eleven, and there was a there was a panel that was created to figure out how to prevent that from happening again. They gave IRC out a whole. Two things to do, including like winner rotation, like insulating their pipes or got didn't, do it in but again so I think taxes as patients with Urca. Doubtless That kind of stuff is probably reached an end. So how do we fix stuff you mentioned the smart grid. Think about I mean just our restructuring, this country is in bad shape period. Seventy percent of large power, transformers and transmission I wondered at least twenty five years old and sixty percent of circuit breakers. Thirty years old, and you mentioned this art grid and I think that's their starting to do some of it,
that's the solution going forward right yeah, I mean like it doesn't matter where you are on the left or the right in the middle? Everyone is like yes, smart grids marker. We need a smart grids and has basically like the grid we have now, but just slowly, piecemeal. Proved little by little the ad way more back and forth. communication between the generators, the transmitters, the distributors and the end user that there is in there's a lot more automated sensing built into this system, which makes the whole thing a lot more clout and dumb makes like re routing around problems. A lot easier, but also one of the big things is making you in me, and I and we. a lot more savvy about the energy that we consume from moment to moment you I mean there's that and also feel like the smart grid. Most of that kind of falls under the banner of reach.
Old time, micro, observant right, whereas what we have now is very sluggish year. Very old fashioned I mean, is it can be it's like. The difference between you know did Smartphone technology and like the old, like crank phones from the old days facing yeah, there's a power outage. The way that the electrical generators find out about is there's a series of two: hours were bonfires, are lit from mountain to mountain and they fight they see one. It's close enough went close enough and they started like ramp up production. That's how it happens now to making, but there is also so I mean you ve got things like gum feeder switches that basically go around a problem area. If you got down transmission lie, I can t go around it and then you know it doesn't black everybody out smart meters, so you can see
energy you're using and then also how much the price of energy is. So you can actually save money if you want a kind of get into it and that granular level and then also just making sure that that their storage- that's big challenge. We talked about that and our renewable energy Upso bill, yes, storage, Without it, we don't have any word put access. We shuffle it around the grid, but if we have a storage places treaty equally put around the United States. That would change absolutely everything as well as getting more direct use, which is solar. I should have a little solar project going. I M very excited about very nice from my house. But no you know this. We have summer we have some acreage and georgian on a river that no house or any thing is just land van- down by there may be a ban on there, but it's just that. I call it that without the camp, its friends and family camp venom
I'm trying to style it out, like a legit like state part campground her and as of right now is about three days ago. I'm having a pavilion built. It's gonna have three so panels on it. little battery array song to build a power like it big giant ceiling fan the pavilion, unlike for quad outlets in the kitchen we maker nothing huge. But he said the guy's it'll be enough for three or four days of full power and then like it hey did you sit up and whenever there for more than three anyway, I know I'm technically gonna have a little off grid. Campground too, you have me a coffee maker, and I should mention you got me- a very nice birthday gift that is going to live at that camp, I'm so glad you like it me. I saw it. I was like I'm. I know exactly where we'll go and it went exactly where I thought it would get. What is the exact name of it? I don't have the box in front of me: oh man, it's a kindling splitter base
yeah, it's like a log splinter, but it, but it's and into kindling. So the coolest thing about it all is the story behind it is this like it too, the old girl invented it New Zealand and for the last like seven years now, she's in early twenties. I think she's, like thirteen years old at the time- it's like it, company in this thing you, like it onto a log You put another login and hid it with a heavy hammer. Even got me the heavy Amur yeah yeah. I can't not give a hammer split it into kindling, I'm just excited I rather like bringing an ax down onto a log. The act is coming up from the bottom, yes in its very much safer and are even looked at a Youtube, video and review, and everyone is like these. Things are great safer than an axe. A campfire hit two committees at very thoughtful gets Ottawa, happy birthday, now more than six bottles of champagne yeah, drink it all weekend, as suggested not yet, but spring break
we can organise gonna, get into that she and farms and enjoy very sweet guess is that that is the way we start talking about electricity, I think than we thought you mean like for those all. I guess I gave you you didn't give you the other eight gifts, the half case of champagne and the logs put it in the hammer, the three pounds: ledge nitrate Well, if you want to know more about checks, three pounds lead. You can email them by also meantime you, I know more about the electrical grid. You can start reading about it, it's an extraordinarily complicated, complex Martin modern marvel of engineering, that's pretty engrossing stuff, so go to town and in the meantime I said, go to town, which means a sign for listener me. I'm gonna, call this titanic follow up from a friend in Ireland. This is this is a fundamental has been listening for a few years now. It currently work in Belfast port. Where Aramis Titanic was built.
Twenty two of the Titanic Museum was built in Belfast in the building, is in the shape of a star representing whites, our lines and each point of the star is the actual size of Titanic hall at a hundred twenty, six feet high standing underneath it really gives you a feel for its size and makes you feel very small in a good way, also slip ways forward Panic are filled in for you to walk and edged with an outline of titanic in its sister ship Olympic Circle to scale yes, very cool, including the actual locations of the lifeboats funnels again, is very cold water you can check out of you can check it on Google Earth just search Titanic Belfast check out the satellite. Do I keep up the great and that is Kyle in Belfast in Ireland and he has a nice little PS joke
There is a very real joke, you're in Belfast, when people ask is why we celebrate something that sank, which is this. It was fine when it left here that said trademark Belfast humour was going to do it in irish tax but I get stage for both come on. Let's hear it again, I don't know what I'm leaving I find it was fine when it left although a great man as their transfer to me my youth, when I was eating above lucky charms or him in it, fine when it left here Well, let's see Chuck is at it, that's gotta, be who was it Sammy Davis? Do. Thank you, Sammy Davis, Jr for the letter that was Kyle Kyle, that's right, Kyle from Belfast. We appreciate you and if you want to be appreciated, like Kyle, you can see what's. A good email like Kyle, did rapporteur spank it on the bottom and ship it out to sea to stuff.
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Transcript generated on 2021-04-13.