Archives for electricity



How Vulnerable Is Our Power Grid?

A newly declassified report from the National Research Council analyzes the vulnerabilities of America’s electric-power system. Douglas Birch of Foreign Policy explains:

[T]he formerly secret report to the Department of Homeland Security focuses more on the U.S. electric power system’s older technology and lack of spare capacity, saying the “physical capabilities of much of the transmission network have not kept pace with the increasing burden that is being placed on it.” As a result, it found, sophisticated physical assaults against key facilities could damage difficult-to-replace hardware and cause multiple cascading failures with catastrophic results.

Hurricane Sandy wasn’t a “sophisticated physical assault,” but it still did the job. Read More »



The Cobra Effect, Continued

Quite a few readers and listeners have written in with their own versions of “the cobra effect,” as described in our recent podcast of the same name. Here’s one particularly entertaining one, from Eblyn Miguel Angel:

I would like to bring a comment that came to mind when I heard your podcast on the “Cobra Effect,” in particular when Levitt mentions that for any scheme presented a government must come to the realization that there will be schemers who will break the system or get around it.

I bring this up because my family is Dominican and growing up my father told me a folk tale of something very similar to this involving electric meters in his home country.

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Marijuananomics in California

Growing costs are on the rise. Read More »



Don't Read This Post

Quick, how many of you can tell me:

1. Your cars’ fuel economy in miles per gallon or, even better, gallons per mile.
2. How much you drove in the last year.
3. The cost to fill your tank.
4. Your monthly and annual fuel expenditures.
5. How your cars’ fuel economy sits in relation to other cars in their classes.
6. What your fuel savings in gallons and dollars would be if you switched to a hybrid or other highly economical vehicle. Read More »



Watt's Next: Your Thoughts

With a large number of electric vehicles in the pipeline (see this new piece in The Economist), my staff EV expert (my brother Brad) and I asked for your wit and wisdom on their prospects. Some of your thoughts on whether EV’s will “clean up”: Read More »



Watt's Next?

With almost every major automaker working on one, electric propulsion may finally be poised to break out. Or is it? Read More »



Mind the Electric Gap

Thirty percent of U.S. electricity consumption could be erased through gains in energy productivity, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute. (Related: see R.M.I. chairman Amory Lovins‘s recent guest post.) The institute’s analysis arrived at electricity productivity stats for all 50 states by dividing each state’s G.D.P. by the kilowatt hours of electricity it consumed. New […] Read More »



Dying Is Easy; Electricity Is Hard

Photo: qmnonic Electricity is one of those things that is easy to take for granted. All you have to do is flick a switch and somehow, from somewhere, the juice turns on and does just what you want it to do. Most of us rarely think about all the things that need to happen for […] Read More »