Today's PUF

Transmission Omission

I just read another article — by another expert in combatting climate change — about how U.S. electric supply can get to a hundred percent renewables. I’ve lost count of how many of these articles I’ve seen.

A hundred percent can be achieved economically and rather expeditiously, it is typically asserted, remarkably without nuclear power plants. The magic bullet is usually massive quantities of battery storage. But the more thoughtful of these articles adds huge amounts of hydroelectric storage and, in particular, high-voltage transmission.

One and a Third Percent

On August 30, the U.S. Commerce Department published detail on July’s gross domestic product. Including detail on its largest component, personal consumption expenditures. In July, one and a third percent of personal consumption was for residential electric bills. 

Is that a lot or a little? One way to answer this question is to look at what other categories of personal consumption were near one and a third percent in July.

Exactly one and a third percent was also spent on higher education.

Latest on Grid's De-Carbonizing

A hundred percent will be carbon free by 2050. Or by 2040. Or even by the year 2030, which is but eleven years from now. We hear this in the news all the time, about goals being set for de-carbonizing the country’s production of electricity.

Which begs the question, where do we stand at the present time? On Monday, the U.S. Energy Department answered this important question, through the first half of 2019.

Real Meters, Way!

It wasn’t that long ago that everybody had cumulative electric meters. Thomas Edison invented cumulative meters at the dawn of electric utility service, way back in 1879. Though improved in the century-plus since, a meter still measured how many kilowatt-hours in total a home took since the meter was installed. Meter readers — remember them — dodging your dog and debris would enter your yard and record the total as of that day. Subtract that total from last month’s number and ta-da, the utility could calculate your monthly bill.

Nuclear Plant

When it opened, it was the world’s largest power plant. Its capacity was 108 megawatts.

It was 1911 when Norsk Hydro put into service the Vemork hydro plant in central Norway. In the 1930s much of the power that Vemork produced went to the only factory making heavy water. This was an obscure industrial product until the late thirties, when physicists discovered heavy water was a key to developing an atomic bomb.