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Friday, August 3, 2012

Dog Days of Summer

According to The Old Farmer's Almanac the traditional period of the Dog Days of summer are the 40 days beginning July 3rd and ending August 11th, coinciding with the ancient  rising of the Dog Star, Sirius. These are the days of the year with the least rainfall in the Northern Hemisphere.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, that means there's a good chance that you are experiencing a heat wave. Since we no longer sacrifice animals or humans to appease mythical gods to bring a cooling trend, we need to find ways to keep cool. For most of us that means staying in air conditioned comfort.

Unfortunately, in India right now they are experiencing rolling black outs. On Monday they had their first power grid collapse which affected more than 350 million people. This was the country's worst blackout in a decade. But just when things were starting to improve, it suffered its second massive power failure This one affected as many as 600 million people --which is approximately half the country's population. Think about that for a minute. No electricity means no trains, street lights (stop & go), gas pumps, electric car chargers, elevators, ATM's, and all businesses are shut down (unless they have their own generators).

The picture above shows a traffic jam that resulted from this power outage. Depending on how little gas these people had in their car when this happened, I wonder how many left their cars when they hit the empty mark on the fuel tank? No more air conditioning doesn't leave you much comfort. What caused these problems? It comes down to an aging electric grid that can't keep pace with a growing population and the demands for electricity from businesses and technology.

Now swing your focus to the United States. When was the last time a new electric plant of any kind was built in your area? This lack of new construction is due to environmental opposition -- you can't build coal plants as it is "too dirty" or nuclear as it is "too risky" and should we really do windmills as they are "hazardous to birds." And if you could get past those issues you then have the legal and regulatory challenges.Our power grid is also nearing a breaking point but activist judges and regulatory agencies of the states and federal government don't seem to think that's important. If you'd like to read how they are all doing their part to throw us back to the dark ages, click on this link to an Institute For Energy Research study and scroll down to the subhead of Regulatory Climate. It's easy to understand and put in everyday terms.

However, if you want to read a more updated viewpoint, click to this link from The Washington Post and their comparison of our electric grid and India's. Could be the sale of private generators will be going up.

So, how do you plan to keep cool this summer?

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