Wednesday, May 20, 2009
POWER - May 7, 2009
Now we are facing a new incursion into our environment, as well as our wallets. The grid lobby wants to extend the power grid. That will cost a pile, which we will end up paying for in our electric rates, as well as much money pumped into the pockets of cronies and underlings, and also profits. Don’t forget the profits. And they want to continue stringing their wires all over our skies. And to top it all, it is unnecessary, well nearly so. The journals on saving our energy and also our money have been following the benefits of combined heat and power, which is something like the new power plant on UW campus, only cheaper, less onerous, and more efficient. Instead of generating power and sending the heat where it can be used, which involves digging up the streets, laying insulated pipe, and still losing heat to the cold outdoors, we could install gas-run power plants generating power in our basements and circulating surplus power to the grid. Then we could run this system just to the amount that we need heat in our houses, which is plenty in the climate of WI. Also the wires for distributing the excess power already exists, except that we usually send the electricity only one way. At the same time, individual houses would be able to generate power and heat under the rare instances when the weather denies us both from time to time. There is a company in WI that builds a unit that would work fine for individual houses here, and others in Europe and Japan that do much the same thing, at varying prices. Even at high US prices, the return on getting both heat and power from the same gas would mean a decrease of about 30% on the combined bill, and far less heat lost into the atmosphere. I brought this to the attention of MG&E several years ago, but was unable to bring the two sides together. I guess MG&E was possibly more interested in the juicy profits to be had from stringing high-tension wires all over our countryside. In the meantime, the journals I mentioned are telling us of the same idea being used profitably all over the world. The alternative still exists, and is better than ever.