Monday, December 29, 2008

Getting a dose of electricity power losses

I now have the opportunity to answer my own question of a few blogs back; we lost power for 14 hours in our rental in Vermont. Energy is such an essential aspect of modern life, and electricity and its deliverance is a fragile commodity. We don't appreciate it until we lose it.

We were on our way to dinner in Waitsfield when suddenly my headlights illuminated power lines all over the road ahead of us. The lines were snaking in the high winds, which had knocked down a utility pole.

You see, it had been almost 60 degrees fahrenheit that day, and the rapid and unprecedented melting for Vermont (global weirding :) had apparently made the base of the pole unstable, so the wind easily knocked it down.

With the electricity off, we three-point turned away from the wires and drove route 17 west to Bristol for dinner. Then the fun started (for me at least). We returned to our little rented house, then by candlelight made a big "lodge fire" in the stone fireplace. The others took the two flashlights and went to sleep in the loft, while I slept by the fire and kept it going all night. It was wonderful.

I woke up when the sun came up and made camp coffee by heating the water in the fireplace. It was toasty and cozy in the room, and I didn't miss power for a second (although I am typing on a laptop right now). No vapid TV and blaring boom boxes; the cacophony of power excess. I was vaguely disappointed when the power came back on, although my family appreciated it, since my son had kind of a bad cold.

Everyone has to prepare themselves for a possible bad energy crisis, and more so, for gasoline supply shortages, which could happen within the year. What would you do if you suddenly couldn't get gasoline for several days or weeks? Have you even thought about it?

Another thought that came to mind was that a hybrid makes a pretty good energy-storage device.

When I turned on the Prius that night, it was the only robust power source on in that dark settlement, save for the amazing starlight. There are lots of proposals out to use millions of plug-in hybrids for energy storage during peak electricity demand, as well as to charge them up during off-peak hours.

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