Access to Electricity: Luxury or Right?

Howland937

Active member
All that's still not really got anything to do with my point though. Electricity is essential to our modern society, isn't it? It's woven into the basic operations of daily life, correct? So is it acceptable to our society as a whole to have it fail in such a major way? And if not, what can be done about that?

What can be done? There are government agencies that regulate and oversee just about every aspect of our lives. Everything from TV service to workplace safety, travel and banking. It's actually kind of surprising that there's not a federal commission that specifically oversees the power grid and assures compliance of the providers to maintain a standard of some sort. Unless I'm overlooking one of the 3 or 4 letter agencies.
 

WrongHanded

Active member
It's not pedantic, and you're still hiding the pea under that shell.

You can't have a right to have a resource, no matter how essential, provided or guaranteed. That's not a right, it's an empty promise of a handout.
I've already admitted my mistake in using the word "Right". If you want to keep flogging that horse, I guess you can do so.
And no sane person would want the government involved in providing anything that could possibly be obtained any other way. Governments, all of them without exception, are obscenely inefficient at everything they do; that's why government involvement is inversely related to prosperity.
Really? No sane person? You're the arbiter of sanity? I won't enter into an argument about government vs private companies. There's no point, it doesn't matter what the government does right, some people will always find fault. We could use private militaries, but we don't.

No they haven't. Your Power Co doesn't offer 100% reliability, never has, never will, and no adult is even slightly surprised by that. If you believe 100% uptime power is vital to your survival, buy it.

Really? The power companies didn't fail to supply electricity? That's what you're claiming here. And no, they don't guarantee 100% reliability, but they don't advertise that they don't. And I'd argue 4 million Texans were pretty surprised when they found they no longer had access. They were paying customers after all. Did the power companies warn them the power supply could fail? Of course they didn't. But the power companies knew about the polar vortex weeks if not months in advance, and they knew their systems weren't winterized. Did their customers know that? No. Because no one told them.
 

Howland937

Active member
And no sane person would want the government involved in providing anything that could possibly be obtained any other way. Governments, all of them without exception, are obscenely inefficient at everything they do; that's why government involvement is inversely related to prosperity
Off topic, but that's my primary argument against government run healthcare. Most everything they touch eventually becomes so top-heavy, it crumbles under it's own weight.
You'd be just as successful asking your Congress Scumbag to guarantee your right to not be in a car accident
Oddly, I saw something on the news this morning when I was half asleep. A lady who suffered TBI in an accident has become an activist and is lobbying the Biden admin to enact measures to eliminate traffic accident deaths by 2050. The year I guess, not a 2,050 reduction.

So I guess you don't need to ask congress. The president is gonna do it himself.
 
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WrongHanded

Active member
What can be done? There are government agencies that regulate and oversee just about every aspect of our lives. Everything from TV service to workplace safety, travel and banking. It's actually kind of surprising that there's not a federal commission that specifically oversees the power grid and assures compliance of the providers to maintain a standard of some sort. Unless I'm overlooking one of the 3 or 4 letter agencies.
There's the Department Of Energy, but I don't know how involved they really are in regulating the functionality, safeguards and protections of the grid. Probably to some degree.

Texas stands alone, relatively unregulated. In light of what has happened recently that may change in the near future.

For the Western and Eastern grids, there's more regulation, likely based on the interstate nature of those two systems. However, if you remember the Camp Fire in California a few years ago, you may also remember it got started by a corporately owned powerline failing in some way. That's not been uncommon in CA. The Camp Fire btw, was a terrifying wildlife worth reading up on.

Anyhow, I believe our grids are far too patchworked. Different companies own different sections, and it seems from what I can tell like there's not enough standardization. It's not like communications, or roads, or water supply systems, or anything else. The power grid is just a different beast.
 

wiscoaster

Active member
All that's still not really got anything to do with my point though. Electricity is essential to our modern society, isn't it? It's woven into the basic operations of daily life, correct? So is it acceptable to our society as a whole to have it fail in such a major way? And if not, what can be done about that? We certainly have the technological ability to make the power grid more reliable.
OK, my comments were from the POV of how electric utilities work in Wisconsin, but from the POV of Texas, I understand they've got their own grid and it probably works completely differently.

WRT to your questions: essential: yes; acceptable to have it fail: no. What can be done? In my opinion, discard Edison model and adopt Tesla model.

Edison model: centralized power production with widespread distribution network. Feasible only with an AC based system. AC is complicated but can be distributed over wide areas using high voltage that can be stepped down to provide power where it's demanded. A fault in the distributiuon system produces a widespread outage. A fault at the production facility produces a widespread outage. Both production and distribution are above ground and vulnerable to both natural and criminal man-made disruption events.

Tesla model: distributed power production produced when and where demanded using a DC system. DC is subject to voltage drop over distance thus is feasible only for distribution to small areas located near the production facility. Although he was working on a wider-range broadcast method, but never finished it before he died (or was murdered), and genius that he was, didn't bother to document how it worked. But - for now: natural gas is widely available for underground distribution and virutually immune from disruption, either natural or otherwise. If small natural gas-powered DC power production facilities of appropriate size were located where gas is available and convenient to demand, and distributed underground, failures would be unlikely, and any single failure of either production or distribution would affect only a small area and few people. Furthermore, this production could supplement renewable sources (light & wind) when and where conveniently located and available. And these neighborhood systems could even be owned by the property owners in the neighborhood, whether residential, commercial or industrial.

Expensive to implement? Of course. What would be the cost of hardening the current system so that failures like those that are being more and more frequently experienced would no longer occur? Any cheaper?

Converting everything from AC to DC? Simple - no need to convert - you just install an "inverter" where the power comes in. Everything that's currently AC can continue to run on AC. It's only production and distribution that would need to be DC. Though, eventually, new construction would probably default to 100% DC.
 
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WrongHanded

Active member
OK, my comments were from the POV of how electric utilities work in Wisconsin, but from the POV of Texas, I understand they've got their own grid and it probably works completely differently.

WRT to your questions: essential: yes; acceptable to have it fail: no. What can be done? In my opinion, discard Edison model and adopt Tesla model.

Edison model: centralized power production with widespread distribution network. Feasible only with an AC based system. AC is complicated but can be distributed over wide areas using high voltage that can be stepped down to provide power where it's demanded. A fault in the distributiuon system produces a widespread outage. A fault at the production facility produces a widespread outage. Both production and distribution are above ground and vulnerable to both natural and criminal man-made disruption events.

Tesla model: distributed power production produced when and where demanded using a DC system. DC is subject to voltage drop over distance thus is feasible only for distribution to small areas located near the production facility. Although he was working on a wider-range broadcast method, but never finished it before he died (or was murdered), and genius that he was, didn't bother to document how it worked. But - for now: natural gas is widely available for underground distribution and virutually immune from disruption, either natural or otherwise. If small natural gas-powered DC power production facilities of appropriate size were located where gas is available and convenient to demand, and distributed underground, failures would be unlikely, and any single failure of either production or distribution would affect only a small area and few people. Furthermore, this production could supplement renewable sources (light & wind) when and where conveniently located and available. And these neighborhood systems could even be owned by the property owners in the neighborhood, whether residential, commercial or industrial.

Expensive to implement? Of course. What would be the cost of hardening the current system so that failures like those that are being more and more frequently experienced would no longer occur? Any cheaper?

Firstly, I had no idea Tesla experimented with a DC distribution system. I was under the impression he invented AC power and Edison invented DC. Seems odd they would swap, but perhaps I've been mistaken. I'll look into that.

I have to wonder how much more spread out our power production could be. It seems pretty spread out when viewed on a map, but perhaps you mean even more localized power generation than we currently have. And whilst it sounds like a good idea to produce electricity where natural gas is available, that may not be where the power is needed. Also there's the question of how long a natural gas supply can last in any one area, and how feasible erecting and dismantling power production systems may be.

Long distance transmission is obviously not preferable, but sometimes it's necessary. Some states important a lot of power, other export a lot. Some are close to neutral. Creating and distributing power locally could be a better solution, but it also creates vulnerabilities such as Texas has experienced. Tricky stuff really, but quite interesting.

I'm certainly not saying what you're proposing is a bad idea. I can see some benefits.
 

doubleh

Member
If a person decides to build a house in the middle of nowhere, 5 miles from the next nearest dwelling, is a power company obligated to provide them service?
The co-op here will provide you power. The only catch is that you have pay for five miles of line to get it to you. Sounds fair to me>
 

George P

Well-known member
Note: I tried posting the same thing in 'Musings' but it's waiting for approval for some reason. So I'm trying here.

Most of you probably know that the polar vortex and subsequent frigid temperatures have caused power outages on the Texas power grid. This has left millions without electricity when they need it most, to fight off the extreme cold. I want to know what you guys think about access to electrical power.

If we work under the concept of the free market, when providers fail to meet demand, that's just how it is. People may just have to go without, and that's their own personal problem.

But given how essential electrical power is, do people have a right to access it? Providing an individual can pay the asking price, should access be assured?

What do you think?
Show me in the Constitution where it says any private company owes you ANYTHING; don't like your utility? Go get AOC to get you some solar panels and backyard windmills
 

WrongHanded

Active member
About that government control. Prior to the storm Texas submitted a declaration of emergency to raise energy output. The energy secretary rejected it forcing Texas to keep within the federally mandated green policy thus throttling energy output and raising energy costs.

Not according to the order you linked to. The order states that between Feb 14th and 19th, if ERCOT has no other option available, they can (with permission) allow individual generators to exceed environmental standard limits to the absolute minimum amount required to ensure reliability of power distribution.
 
Not according to the order you linked to. The order states that between Feb 14th and 19th, if ERCOT has no other option available, they can (with permission) allow individual generators to exceed environmental standard limits to the absolute minimum amount required to ensure reliability of power distribution.
Hold on I’ll find the right one. I just went to some of the ones I read.
 
I apologize for the slow response, I’ve been really busy today.
Not according to the order you linked to. The order states that between Feb 14th and 19th, if ERCOT has no other option available, they can (with permission) allow individual generators to exceed environmental standard limits to the absolute minimum amount required to ensure reliability of power distribution.

I sent the correct link.

They didn’t necessarily reject them increasing output but they did deny them the ability to increase output by not waiving the emission standards.


“In furtherance of the foregoing and, in each case, subject to the exhaustion of all available imports, demand response, and identified behind-the-meter generation resources selected to minimize an increase in emissions available to support grid reliability:
(i) with respect to any Specified Resource that is an ERCOT Generation Resource or Settlement Only Generator whose operator notifies ERCOT that the unit is unable, or expected to be unable, to produce at its maximum output due to an emission or effluent limit in any federal environmental permit, ERCOT shall ensure that such Specified Resource is only allowed to exceed any such limit during a period for which ERCOT has declared an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) Level 2 or Level 3. This incremental amount of restricted capacity would be offered at a price no lower than $1,500/MWh. Once ERCOT declares that such an EEA Level 2 or Level 3 event has ended, the unit is required to immediately return to operation within its permitted limits; and”

“C. All entities must comply with environmental requirements to the maximum extent necessary to operate consistent with the emergency conditions. This Order does not provide relief from an entity’s obligations to purchase allowances for emissions that occur during the emergency condition or to use other geographic or temporal flexibilities available to generators.”


Texas grid power averaged $1,137.33 per megawatt hour in February until then. In Feb 2020 it averaged $18.20 per megawatt hour.

IMHO there will be people who want the government to run everything and there will be those who do not.

I really believe those two groups are “wired” differently (maybe because or how they were raised) and will never agree on the subject.

I believe I can take of myself and my family better than the government can. While others look to someone else to solve their problems or assistance.
Disclaimer; that previous few sentences are not directed at anyone in particular.
 
Also, as for as making electricity fool proof; that would virtually be impossible where I live. There is no way to prevent trees falling or a car accident that regularly kills our power.

My driveway during the storm in Texas.
7E144492-1487-4D98-93BC-937CC1EF0BDA.jpeg


The way I insure it’s not out for longer than 30 seconds.
E866A9F2-AF61-42AF-ADA6-8EE59BFB4713.jpeg


I can stand losing power or being on back generator as long as I am somewhere peaceful and left alone.

21D11C75-3DC4-4535-A4BE-F5A8EAB6AE6B.jpeg
 

WrongHanded

Active member
I apologize for the slow response, I’ve been really busy today.


I sent the correct link.

They didn’t necessarily reject them increasing output but they did deny them the ability to increase output by not waiving the emission standards.


“In furtherance of the foregoing and, in each case, subject to the exhaustion of all available imports, demand response, and identified behind-the-meter generation resources selected to minimize an increase in emissions available to support grid reliability:
(i) with respect to any Specified Resource that is an ERCOT Generation Resource or Settlement Only Generator whose operator notifies ERCOT that the unit is unable, or expected to be unable, to produce at its maximum output due to an emission or effluent limit in any federal environmental permit, ERCOT shall ensure that such Specified Resource is only allowed to exceed any such limit during a period for which ERCOT has declared an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) Level 2 or Level 3. This incremental amount of restricted capacity would be offered at a price no lower than $1,500/MWh. Once ERCOT declares that such an EEA Level 2 or Level 3 event has ended, the unit is required to immediately return to operation within its permitted limits; and”

“C. All entities must comply with environmental requirements to the maximum extent necessary to operate consistent with the emergency conditions. This Order does not provide relief from an entity’s obligations to purchase allowances for emissions that occur during the emergency condition or to use other geographic or temporal flexibilities available to generators.”


Texas grid power averaged $1,137.33 per megawatt hour in February until then. In Feb 2020 it averaged $18.20 per megawatt hour.

IMHO there will be people who want the government to run everything and there will be those who do not.

I really believe those two groups are “wired” differently (maybe because or how they were raised) and will never agree on the subject.

I believe I can take of myself and my family better than the government can. While others look to someone else to solve their problems or assistance.
Disclaimer; that previous few sentences are not directed at anyone in particular.
Right, so the Feds allowed them to do it, with stipulations. Yes they put a minimum cap on the output energy in such a case at $1500 per MWh. But ERCOT has a maximum cap of $9000 per MWh, and they allowed generators to reach that maximum during the emergency. So the minimum set by the Feds is really a non-issue. The power companies gouged Texas because they could, not because the Feds made them.

ETA: Good for you, having a generator. Something I don't think most people could afford, and something they probably couldn't install into a rental property. But it's nice if you have the means.
 
I see it as an issue due to the fact that the government is still involved therefore it is not really a free-market. Like I also said, to an extent, some will always see the government as the solution and others will see them as a somewhat of a hindrance.

You asked for opinions and I gave you mine. There isn’t anything you or I can say that will change the others mind.

I do enjoy reading others opinions even if they are different than mine. Thank you, sir.

Yes, picture of the driveway, the generator, and the property was to show that not all places are the same and guaranteed electricity, while it sounds great, isn’t possible everywhere.

I would like add that I’m not anywhere close to wealthy. My wife, and I were married 17 years before we could afford our place. Us and the kids did without a lot of stuff before building. Including me working 118 days straight on many occasions then continuing with 5-6 days a week.. No inheritance, no leg up, no help, just lots of work and keeping our minds on the long term.
 

M5-Shogun

New member
My viewpoint, being a market-corporatist, is that electricity is not a "right" in the same way life or pursuit of happiness is. That's just plain and simple from my POV. That being said, if the provider fails to provide the service, that's between the customer and them. I don't agree with grid monopolies, but much like internet area monopolies, unless you have a centralized mediator of the lines and such, you'd end up with powerline spaghetti and incompatible standards much like how early American railways all had different track gauges, meaning that railways had to run and own ALL of their own lines. That's a safety issue when it comes to powerlines for many reasons.

My suggestion: State owns the actual power lines that interconnect localities, localities own the "major" lines, and customers own the connection from those lines to their houses. There can then be a group of power companies who all offer differing rates and services, and are contracted by the state/localities.
 

wiscoaster

Active member
My suggestion: State owns the actual power lines that interconnect localities, localities own the "major" lines, and customers own the connection from those lines to their houses. There can then be a group of power companies who all offer differing rates and services, and are contracted by the state/localities.

The only problem with that scenario is that if the customer's power company fails to provide electricity to the common grid, what is the customer's power situation since he's still connected to that grid? Is he shut off by remote control at his access point, while his neighbor contracting with a different company is still receiving power? Can be done with modern technology, but I think public acceptance in a state like Wisconsin is going to be a hurdle because it's going to be just plain weird. Here, if there's an outage, all your neighbors are in the same boat. Kind of friendly-like.
 

WrongHanded

Active member
The only problem with that scenario is that if the customer's power company fails to provide electricity to the common grid, what is the customer's power situation since he's still connected to that grid? Is he shut off by remote control at his access point, while his neighbor contracting with a different company is still receiving power? Can be done with modern technology, but I think public acceptance in a state like Wisconsin is going to be a hurdle because it's going to be just plain weird. Here, if there's an outage, all your neighbors are in the same boat. Kind of friendly-like.
More than likely, another generator makes up the difference at whatever price they are currently charging, and the one that has failed to provide power covers that cost.

Let's also bear in mind that power production to meet the customer demand for an individual generator need not be in real time. For example, if I were to contract with a solar company, they wouldn't need to supply power 24/7 (and they couldn't of course). They would only need to supply enough power in a given period (30 day pay period) to cover what they sold. Other generators would throttle up and down to cover the real-time demands, and may charge a fee for covering the gaps of the solar production. Ultimately, the grid gets the power it needs as and when it needs it. And if the solar companies produce more power in a pay period than they are required to, more conventional fueled generators can throttle down but may gain some profit for doing less.

It's complicated. But not overly so.
 
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