Energy expert discusses ‘the hidden fragility of our electric grid’

In this episode of Vote for Vermont, Meredith Angwin, a nuclear physicist and clean energy advocate, joins co-hosts Pat McDonald and Ben Kinsley to talk about her new book, “Shorting the Grid.”

Image courtesy of Meredith Angwin

4 thoughts on “Energy expert discusses ‘the hidden fragility of our electric grid’

  1. The headline of this article is misleading. Vermont’s electric transmission grid is no more fragile than any other State’s. In fact, Vermont’s ‘Smart Grid’ is reportedly one of the most technologically advanced in the U.S.. This discussion is more about power generating sources, not so much transmission. And much of the rest of the discussion was incongruous, at best.

    For example, the discussion emphasized natural gas-powered electric plants as transient peak demand back-up. But there are no natural gas fired electric plants in Vermont and Vermont purchases very little electricity from out-of-state natural gas plants.

    According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “[Vermont’s] in-state generation provided only about two-fifths of the electricity consumed in Vermont, and almost three-fifths of that in-state net generation came from hydroelectric power. An additional one-fifth of Vermont’s in-state generation came from biomass, and most of the rest came from wind and solar energy. Natural gas and petroleum together accounted for a very minor amount of Vermont’s in-state generation.”

    The concern about rolling blackouts was also exaggerated. There was no discussion of the Hydro Quebec generating capacity which currently provides nearly 30% of Vermont’s power. HQ happens to be the 4th largest electric generating system in the world and has offered to sell Vermont nearly all the power the State can use. Furthermore, Vermont’s transient peak demand is also available from the Seabrook, NH nuclear power plant at very reasonable costs.

    • Post Script: The reason VT electricity is expensive to consumers is that GMP, for example, pays net-metered subsidies to the wind, methane and solar projects at three times the cost per kwh of Hydro Quebec power.

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