Yes, and moving away from baseload coal, nukes, and natural gas
and towards distributed solar and wind power will help with that,
both directly by making the grid more resilient, and indirectly
by slowing climate change.
Just days away from the 10-year anniversary of the worst power
outage in U.S. history, the White House and the Energy Department
released a report on Monday evaluating the resiliency of the
nation’s electric grid and recommending steps to prevent future
The report called storms and severe weather “the leading cause of
power outages in the United States,” and warned against the steep
cost of weather-related damage to the electric grid. It put the
price tag for electrical failures caused by inclement weather at
between $18 billion and $33 billion annually, and noted that costs
have increased in recent years, jumping from a range of $14 billion
to $26 billion in 2003 to $27 billion to $52 billion in 2012. Storms
exceeding a billion dollars in damages (electrical and otherwise)
have also become more frequent in the past decade, as the chart
In his morning keynote at the sold-out
Southern Solar Summit,
Col. Dan Nolan (U.S. Army ret.) asked the musical question:
“When did our Marines become Birkenstock-wearing tree huggers?”
This was after some Marines asked for solar power so they wouldn’t
have to haul fuel in long convoys, which were among the most dangerous missions.
Most of that fuel was going into very inefficient generators to run
very inefficient air conditioners in tents in the desert.
Dealing with that got the military thinking about energy security:
assured access to mission-critical energy.
Looking up, he asked:
“What is it we as a nation need to understand about our own energy security?”
He identified America’s strategic center of gravity as its economy.
It’s very resilient but has vulnerabilities open to attack.
So how do we secure those vulnerabilities?
Larry Hagman, most famous for playing Texas oilman JR Ewing, has gone solar.
He says the east coast blackout of 2003 made him think of the fragility of the grid,
so he installed enough solar panels and inverters to power his rather large estate:
He spent about $750,000 and got about $300,000 back in rebates. With the current Georgia 35% rebate and the federal 30% rebate on renewable energy installation, an investment of that amount could get back around $487,500 in rebates.
Of course, the average home solar installation isn’t nearly that big, more like $15,000, with something like $9,750 rebate, or around $5,250 net.