CENSE Background Articles

There are dozens of great articles about rapid changes occurring in the electricity industry and how consumers will get their power in coming decades. CENSE members chose the articles below as our top five to get you up to speed on this topic. Click on the links to read them yourself. We hope you’ll agree that investing in a huge new transmission line will soon be recognized as a colossal mistake.

1. www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-23/the-way-humans-get-electricity-is-about-to-change-forever

Why it matters: The article concisely describes six trends (with attractive graphs) that will fundamentally change how we get power in the near future. There are no transmission lines in sight. It’s all about solar energy, which PSE says won’t affect the peak load scenario that Energize Eastside is designed to handle. But that changes if batteries become more widely used. (See the next article!)

Favorite quote: “By 2040, rooftop solar will be cheaper than electricity from the grid in every major economy, and almost 13 percent of electricity worldwide will be generated from small-scale solar systems.”

2. arstechnica.com/science/2015/05/tesla-energys-goal-changing-the-energy-infrastructure-of-the-world

Why it matters: This is a detailed overview of the opportunities and challenges of switching to batteries to provide peak electricity, instead of miles of new transmission lines.

Favorite quote: “All this adds up to a new kind of electric grid that’s more efficient than the aging structure we currently have—and it could be just as environmentally-friendly, if not more so.”

3. www.google.com/search?q=U.S.+Electricity+Use+on+Wane+Rebecca+Smith (click on first search result)

Why it matters: The Wall Street Journal explains how electric utilities are responding to financial challenges in the industry. Their default strategy? Build a new transmission line!

Favorite quote: “Some companies … are pouring money into high-voltage transmission lines—superhighways for electricity—because federal regulators are allowing them to collect above-average returns from customers on those outlays.”

4. www.statejournal.com/story/19012683/path-may-be-cancelled

Why it matters: What happens when utility companies try to build a questionable transmission line? We take encouragement from a citizen action group in West Virginia (StopPATHWV.com) who opposed a big line through their state and two others. They successfully killed the project, but now the utilities want to charge customers many millions of dollars to recover expenditures such as public promotion of the project. That is the subject of ongoing litigation. Ironically, the project was promoted by the same consultant (Mark Williamson) who PSE hired to sell Energize Eastside to the public and policymakers. We hope to add another failure to his record.

Favorite quote: “The Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline may be canceled this fall. … New generation has become available and demand response — commitments large users make to curtail their power use during peak use periods — has grown.”

5. www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/06/29/power-to-the-people

Why it matters: Environmental leader Bill McKibben starts with the example of a working family, and shows how their choices will drive what utilities are doing in the near future.

Favorite quote: “Neither the Corrells nor the Borkowskis changed their homes out of concern for global warming. But that’s the point: a bold reworking of energy systems, long necessary and expensive, is now necessary and much more affordable. That could make for a very different world.”


June 30th, 2015|