published Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Storms vs. electricity

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    Damaged transmission lines at TVA's Widows Creek Fossil Fuel Plant block Jackson County Highway 96 in Bridgeport. Staff Photo by Dan Henry - The Chattanooga Times Free Press

We are so accustomed to convenient electricity that we tend to take it for granted — until it goes out.

Of course, we experienced that firsthand in recent months, as tornadoes and other big storms throughout the Southeast caused massive damage to electrical lines and triggered power outages.

Most of the interruptions have been relatively brief, though some people were without service for longer periods.

The Tennessee Valley Authority and its distributors transmit power via overhead lines to countless homes and businesses. The lines obviously are vulnerable to high winds, and the tornadoes and other severe storms reportedly knocked out 108 TVA power transmission lines and 353 power towers.

Numerous power distributors and hundreds of thousands of their residential and business customers suffered power loss.

North Alabama and a great deal of Northeast Mississippi, for instance, were left without power for about a week.

There was the inconvenient loss of television and the use of other appliances. But a lack of refrigeration was more serious. Fortunately, spring weather during the time in question was mostly mild, so heating and air conditioning disruptions were not huge problems.

The most serious results of the storms have been the tragic losses of life, of course, as well as major damage to homes and other property.

And the extensive devastation from the storms has added up to tremendous costs, which eventually will be spread among all of us to some degree, whether through higher insurance rates or lost productivity.

We generally take quick resumption of electric service after an outage for granted. But fast or slow, that restoration has been a result of arduous work over long hours by the people who professionally provide our electricity. Many of those workers have braved bad conditions and worked tirelessly to restore power lines.

We are reminded of how dependent we are upon electricity, and we appreciate those who keep it flowing to us.

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nucanuck said...

Could electrical rationing, shortages and brownouts ever become "normal" in America?

Sadly, if continued, our present course will lead to third world electric supply conditions. An aging infrastructure, lack of investment, and changing options to generate electricity could all contribute to a degraded electrical future.

The quest for the lowest possible rates has focused on the use of fossil fuels which are now rapidly becoming more expensive as the easy to access fuels have been used up. At the same time our energy consumption has soared. In the relatively near future we will need more energy than can be affordably supplied by fossil fuel sources. If we have not begun the expansion toward other sources, we will likely find that our electrical grid will no longer be so dependable.

June 28, 2011 at 1:09 a.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

nucanuck said... "Could electrical rationing, shortages and brownouts ever become "normal" in America?"

Sure, just give Obama 4 more years. He is already well down that path.

June 28, 2011 at 5:40 p.m.
carlB said...

BigRidgePatriot said... Sure, just give Obama 4 more years. He is already well down that path

BigRidgePatriot, What proof do you have that Obama has been trying to reduce the total needed electric power?
What do you think about the TVA electric power system?

June 28, 2011 at 10:47 p.m.
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