Tuesday, November 29, 2011
ELECTRICITY - December 1, 2011
We are now embarking again on the famous WI winter. This year, there has been an especially large outbreak of rains, floods and snows that have had the effect of felling trees, many falling across power lines and depriving whole areas of electricity, often for an extended period. Whenever this happens, it reminds me of my effort to interest MG&E in the enormous benefits that could accrue to places like the City of Madison if it were possible to be less dependent on long-distance power lines. Such a condition could be obtained by Madison and many other towns and cities, many in WI, through the advantages that could accrue to us if we had widespread mini-combined heat and power, abbreviated mini-CHP. This technology, which has been proven in use in Europe, especially Scandinavia, would provide electricity each user as a nearly free by-product of home heating. The yearly cost of natural gas and electric power for each such user would be about the cost of gas alone, with savings of about 50%. Into the bargain, the supply of electricity would be a nearly perfect guarantee to the user of continuity of that service, while saving about half the cost of the two utilities billed separately. MG&E advertises that they are eager to help us cut our total energy use, thus saving both money and nearly half of the natural gas and its attendant electricity. I was never successful in winning over the gas company to this proven technology and the side benefits of almost total freedom from power outages due to felled grid lines. There may be some unknown reasons why this company, which could profit handsomely from the benefits that could flow from mini-CHP, refuses to undertake a test in a few dozen homes that would demonstrate the benefits that would flow to the whole city, including the gas and electric company itself.