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The Vital Decision re: Electric Transition

Doug Houseman's picture
Visionary and innovator in the utility industry and grid modernization Burns & McDonnell

I have a broad background in utilities and energy. I worked for Capgemini in the Energy Practice for more than 15 years. During that time I rose to the position of CTO of the 12,000 person...

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When it comes down to it, there is always a very hard decision, one that puts people’s lives in the balance.

The electric transition to zero emissions is one of those situations, and the decision is going to determine who dies, it is not whether people die, but who dies.

We can go fast, get to zero emissions, and have supply issues like California, the UK, and Germany have or we can keep plants running that have emissions (as Germany and the UK have done and California is putting in place) to keep the lights on.

If we go fast, shutdown plants and live with the results – people will die immediately in winter storms and heat waves. It has already happened.

If we are slower about turning off fossil fueled plants, then the models say we will miss the targets and kill people in the future.

Have we, as a society, come to terms with who dies?

The Federal government in the US has a $3.5 trillion dollar bill that they want to pass. 3% of that money goes to trying to fix the supply and transportation of energy.

More than 40% will raise the use of electricity – much of that to reduce transportation emissions, another roughly 10% to move from fossil fuel to heat pumps for buildings.

Is the bill got the wrong priorities?

Have we really engaged the engineering community that has to convert policy to reality in both the debate and the solution?

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Roger Levy's picture
Roger Levy on Oct 18, 2021

As always you raise a real clearly visible issue.  Eliminating nuclear and fuel fired generation when there are no ‘green’ or other substitutes, like California is doing, has a predetermined outcome which includes a significant human cost.  Unfortunately logic seems to be a rare commodity among the decision makers.

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