Electricity's Ten Greatest Achievements in the Last 25 Years

Deck: 

Emission reduction, combined-cycle, fracking, regional transmission, smart grid, wind, solar, energy efficiency, cost reduction, nuclear revival.

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We're inspired by stories of the nation's electrification in the twentieth century.And the lasting monuments to the toil of our grandfathers and fathers: the Hoover Dam, a hundred nuclear workhorses, a grid spanning the continent. 

Many have thought that this industry's best days are long behind us, in that fading age of miracles.They should look closer at our great achievements, the monuments we've erected in the last twenty-five years.

Take a look at this list, my nominees for electricity's greatest achievements since 1991:

  1. Pollutant emissions were dramatically reduced.
  2. Incredibly efficient natural gas combined-cycle plants took the lead in generation.
  3. The fracking revolution made natural gas abundant and cheap.
  4. High-voltage transmission networks became regional.
  5. The grid at all voltages became smarter.
  6. Wind farms came from nowhere to nearly five percent of generation.
  7. Solar came from nowhere and is following wind's lead.
  8. Energy efficiency has driven down customer rates and bills (compared to the overall cost of living). 
  9. Utilities have reengineered and reduced costs in every corner of the industry.
  10. Nuclear plants substantially increased uptime and output, and a few new plants went into construction.

Did I miss any of our great achievements?Let me know.Together, we'll produce a list to make us proud. 

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Since 1929, Public Utilities Fortnightly has highlighted our industry's challenges and divisions but also our accomplishments and progress.

Steve Mitnick, Editor-in-Chief, Public Utilities Fortnightly

E-mail me: mitnick@fortnightly.com