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Temperatures up, lights out across America


The following commentary by economist Bernard Weinstein ran in the July 12, edition of the Washington Times.

July 13, 2012

This summer’s record-breaking temperatures are straining the electric power grid as never before. The Obama administration’s obsession with alternative sources of energy and persecution of the ones that work are threatening to break the system.

Electricity is generated and transmitted over three networks: the Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection and the Texas Interconnection. Last summer’s record heat wave in Texas - and the consequent demand on the state’s power grid - may be a precursor of things to come. For example, at 5 p.m. Aug. 3, power demand approached 70,000 megawatts, or 96 percent of the state’s generating capacity. Had a major plant gone off-line that afternoon, many businesses and households would have experienced brownouts or blackouts. Luckily, as a result of voluntary curtailments by large electricity consumers, that did not happen. Though the summer of 2012 is only a few weeks old, the Texas Interconnection already has requested curtailments by large power consumers across the state on six different days.

Here’s the problem: Population growth, along with the revival of America’s energy-intensive manufacturing industries and record-high temperatures, has boosted the demand for electricity while power producers have been slow to invest in new generating capacity. According to the Energy Information Administration, the United States will need an additional 2 billion kilowatts of power by 2035, an increase of more than 50 percent. The cost to construct this capacity is estimated at $500 billion.

The Obama administration’s war against fossil fuels and infatuation with renewable energy have exacerbated the shortage of generating capacity....