Friday, September 9, 2011

The Warning: San Diego Blackout

Yesterday, 5-Million Electric Customers in San Diego, Orange & Riverside Counties, plus parts of Arizona and Mexico were suddenly plunged into darkness for 12 hours. Anyone else see a problem with Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs) providing Centralized Electricity? If every building was upgraded and made efficient, then DISTRIBUTED RENEWABLE energy was rolled out in each neighborhood, we would never build another publicly funded carbon-power-plant, we would have no shortage of high paying jobs, and we would have no more black-outs.

If every building, starting with the oldest, were retrofitted for energy efficiency and then adapted with renewable energy generation to make it energy neutral, we could employ all the out of work construction contractors, and create a new, educated energy workforce.

We can change this economy, we can change the way we live, and the way we burn our resources to pay for it. When I travel the wealthy communities of San Diego I look to the roof-tops and see solar arrays, the wealthy know what is coming. Look at UCSD and the Private Universities around San Diego, they have used government incentives and private money to build out tons of renewable energy infrastructure, they know what is coming. Look at the homes of the Executive Board of SDG&E and SEMPRA Energy, their mansions all have Photovoltaic Solar Panels, they know what is coming.

The San Diego Blackout is a warning, telling us just how fragile our economy, nay our lives, actually are. Imagine if it had lasted 48 hours ... all your food would have spoiled. Imagine 72 hours, you wouldn't be able to charge your cell phone, or answer emails. Imagine 100 hours, you dog would have died due to heat exhaustion without air conditioning. Do you have kids? Imagine.

The wealthy among us are secure, they already have renewable energy, and batteries. Many of the rich have multiple homes, with back-up water supplies, and home gardens to provide food. I can't stress how the potential for unrest scares them. If last night's black-out had lasted a day or two, their would have been looting, riots, fires, and we don't have the police, the communications, the power to stop such social reactions. There are too many people living day-to-day, without jobs, without hope or a future. And this is the USA. What happens when the 3-Million People in Tia Juana realize that we have no power?

Because a single worker in Arizona tripped a switch, San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station (SONGS) shut down 2200-MegaWatts of capacity. We didn't even have traffic signals. What happens when we have the earthquake, the tidal wave, the fires, and the floods? Did you note that all the stores were closed yesterday? Did you have enough gas, food, water? When you have no power, you have no stores, no jobs, no communications. What happens when they call out the national guard and military to 'control' our population because we have no electricity?

We stand on the edge of a precipice, our leaders have failed to educate us to the dangers, and are afraid of the back-lash and panic if they do. The public is unwilling to make the difficult decisions, to pay the tax, to re-establish our economy, because they are used to cushy, wasteful practices and fear the hard work necessary to pay for our mistakes. The solutions we need are available, the technology exists to solve all our problems, if we are unified, if we work together and invest in our communities. Will that ever happen? Or, will we choose to continue to compete, to fight over the ruins of our former lives?

Did you listen to the radio yesterday, could you? Only one local station adapted to the power outage. AT&T and most of the Telecoms and Wireless communications stayed up, but they too need power. Did you have enough ice to keep your perishable food? Did you have batteries and flash-lights? How fun was it without air conditioning or TV? It was only 12 hours.

I want a Sustainable Future, now you know the danger, and you know what it is possible. Your choice, pay now or pay later.

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