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Week of 13 May 2024: Energy Stability

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When I was a teenager on the farm in southern Ohio, the electric line came across the pasture to our home. It was about 1/3 of a mile from our house to the road where the main electric line was and is. I have an aerial shot of our homestead hanging in my office which was taken about 1970. In it, one can clearly see the electric pole near our house with the bright gray, almost white, transformer near its top.

Let me tell you about this transformer. This transformer was installed in the summer of 1968, after an electrical storm which took out the old one, one that I suspect had been there since the advent of rural electric co-ops in the 1930's. When the storm took it out, my parents mistakenly thought it was an area-wide outage and didn't call the electric company. After a couple of days, they did decide it was a very local issue and did call the electric company. Hence the one in the picture on my wall--I remember the day it was installed.

Our electrical needs were so light that we really didn't need power for a couple of days.

Just now, I counted the devices linked to our home Wi-Fi connection. The count this morning is forty (40). This, of course, is not every electrical gadget in our home--there are still some lacking Wi-Fi connections if you can imagine that.

We live in a subdivision in Duluth, Georgia, a sea of electricity in greater Atlanta. Our electricity is supplied by Georgia Power which, on April 29, 2024, announced that Vogtle Unit 4 just came on line making the Vogtle nuclear plant the largest producer of clean energy in the United States, projected to produce 30 million megawatt hours each year.

Thank you, but I will keep my Generac automatic, natural gas powered generator on line as it always is. Last year, it ran for about 35 hours. Thirty-five critical hours in one of the hottest periods of last summer. This is typical here.

Despite investments like Vogtle, our electrical generation capability seems to be less stable than in the past and likely to decline even further in stability in the future. Contributing to this is partially due to keeping up with rapidly growing demand, and another part of it is the deliberate reduction in electrical production occurring in our fossil fuel fleet.

For our paper mills, it seems like the future will require more independence on our part and less reliance on grid delivered electricity. Plan accordingly.

Be safe and we will talk next week.


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