Weathering the Storm
It Seemed Reasonable Enough at the Time:
“We’ve got to get power from Niagara Falls all the way to Downtown Buffalo. It’s a 25 mile stretch. I haven’t got the time nor the man-power to dig that much tunnel, have you? Besides, with enough insulation we can simply re-purpose some of these lovely telegraph lines and make short work of the thing!”
11,000-volt Niagara Falls to Buffalo transmission line from June 5, 1897
It was a grand idea in 1896, when Buffalo received its first high-voltage transmission line from the Edward Dean Adams Power Station, built only one year prior. But now it’s 2018 and our power grid looks like this:
What a mess! According to this White House report from 2013, weather-related power outages alone cost our economy between $18 billion to $33 billion every single year. Wind, ice, floodwater, and extreme temperatures ravage our nation’s antiquated infrastructure annually and mercilessly. What can be done about this?
The thought of burying all 5.5 Million miles of power-lines underground is overwhelming to the point of seeming impossible. While this would surely result in a heartier infrastructure, it’s extremely cost prohibitive and complicates repairs dramatically.
If we could turn back time, we might implore the first linemen to build an underground power system instead. This may have set a precedent, and engineers may have devised a robust subterranean power system with built-in strategies to make the system easier to repair. Alas, at an estimated starting cost of $1 Million per mile to bury the existing infrastructure, most think it’s too late for that now.
The Smart Grid
Many utilities have begun implementing “smart grid” technologies. These are systems that collect data about power usage and can make adjustments in real-time to help keep electricity flowing more efficiently.
This won’t stop the next hurricane from up-ending thousands of utility poles, but it can relieve certain parts of the grid through intelligent re-routing, and promises faster re-connections in the aftermath of an outage.
Renewables & Batteries
Integrating more renewable energy sources into our power grid is a no-brainier. We should take full advantage of wind, hydro, and solar wherever possible.
Today, it’s reasonably easy and cost-effective to add these energy sources to the mix. This is great for reducing our carbon footprint, but since these solar panels and wind turbines are tied into the grid, they do little to help with our rampant weather-related power outage problem.
If only we had an army of small, efficient batteries that could bottle up all of that energy for a rainy day…
Battery technology has been frustratingly slow to improve. They are still large, unwieldy, expensive to manufacture, and difficult to repair. There are new battery technologies on the horizon, but we’ll have to wait and see which (if any) of them pan out.
This concept of decentralized energy is a promising one. Combined with smarter energy management systems, these things have the best shot at keeping more homes and businesses connected to a power source, even when the grid outside of its network is being compromised.
Unless you are an engineer working on these problems, a governor, or a city planner, you might be feeling pretty helpless about all of this. Most of the time when the power goes out, we just have to wait for the utility to get out there and make the necessary repairs.
What if you could create your very own “micro-grid”?
What if you had a power plant right in your backyard or your business lot that was solely dedicated to you and your power needs?
Better Power, Inc. supplies a full line of Generac generators, from small gasoline-powered portables to multiple-MegaWatt permanent standby units (and everything in between).
When you have your own backup power source, you liberate yourself from the unpredictable and unreliable nature of our nation’s power grid.
Here at the office, we’ve got a 48kW generator out back that runs on clean and plentiful natural gas. When the power goes out (an unfortunately frequent occurrence here in Brighton, NY), our generator starts automatically, keeping our lights, computers, and telephones online until power is restored.
This is truly the best solution for any home or business owner looking to avoid the inconvenience and potential dangers of weather-related power outages.
Better Power, Inc. holds a contract with the State of New York, allowing us to do business directly with State agencies, municipalities, and non-profits.