[Marxism] privatizing the grid--a local perspective

DW dwaltersmia at gmail.com
Sat Feb 4 20:51:00 MST 2012

Hans, here are my thoughts on this.

First, the issue is still over ownership and re-regulation. Your strategy
seems to play into hands of those that want to cut up the grid to allow
anyone, including fly-by-night pirate, usually non-union, access to the
grid. I oppose this and all socialists should oppose this.

Wind, as I noted to you but you didn't respond, is one the most centralized
of all energy generation forms, unreliable, intermittent, and gains nothing
really for anyone but the utilities that own them sucking up huge feedin
tariffs in Europe or subsidies in the US.

Denmarks 20%...it's actually higher, I think, closer to 30% is *based* on
their huge increase in consumption of North Sea gas...which is not 'clean'
despite the marketing. Not a single fossil plant has been shutdown in
Denmark...largely because of the amount of back up needed for every KWhr
produced. They STILL get half their generation from...coal.

The country's problem is that a large part of the wind energy is produced
at night when no one needs it and only some of it can be absorbed by
Norwegian and Swedish hydro. Norway is 100% hydro and Sweden is about 47%
hydro, 42% nuclear, 9.7% fossil. They can only absorb so much unneeded wind

Storage at the industrial grid level you are talking about is also hugely
centralized, or has to be in order for us to use any of this energy in a
baseload manner, 24/7. It is also simply unplanned. Flywheels, which list
member Rod Holt first let me know about a year or so ago here, exists only
in experimental plants. Compressed air the same. The Germans are 'leaders'
in this as they have put big money into these schemes. All of them are seen
as very expensive even when scaled up to grid level. All of them may fit
into some of the demand for peak power (usually late afternoon / early
evenings in most countries, depending on season) but not for long days of
high temperature low-wind *weeks* or extremely cloudy, shorten days in
winter and so on. The amount of overbuild necessary is prohibitive and it's
not being planned to my knowledge.

I'm actually giving a talk at the Left Forum next month on part of the
problems with renewables. I *highly* recommend you read James Hansen's
essay on this here:


Its thought provoking in you think 'decentralized, distributive and
renewable' energy is going to actually address climate problems.

The panel will be discussing this paper from Cultural Logic called "Moment
of Transition: Structural Crisis and the Case for a Democratic Socialist
Party" which is mostly over a socialist program to address ecological and
energy issues. It can be read here:


I think the book you quote is exaggerating the problem. Right now I already
noted that all PV is absorbed into the distribution grid as it stands now.
What the books' author is suggesting is that a huge rebuild of the
*distribution* grid be done to accommodate a 5 hour a day 'burn' of solar
PV, essentially (distributed wind for home owners is a non-starter...I'm
not even addressing this at the conference).

The 'real issue', quite frankly is that the large utility run (but public
paid for) concentrating solar power...the big solar farms in the Mojave in
California, and some of the bigger wind farms in Texas, not small
'distributive' generators, are having some congestion issues largely
because of the unreliable nature of when the generate. It's a huge, and
growing, headache for the ISOs everywhere.

The Greens and wind advocates are *demanding* "priority wheeling" of their
product over all other forms of energy. I think this is a serious issue. I
also think it's not necessary, at all, but that's another issue.



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