Monday, May 24, 2010
Changing the mindset of an Industry
If you drive on I77 South at night you will see the brightest area in all of Columbia. No matter the time of night there is a huge commercial complex of buildings lit up like Las Vegas on the fourth of July. These newly designed buildings are the new headquarters of South Carolina Electric and Gas and it is beautiful.
I have to say that I work with SCE&G, know a lot more about power production than I did 4yrs ago and I am an advocate for Solar power. Lighting the night is our way of proving our capabilities to conquer nature. Darkness is the unknown and potentially dangerous; this is why we all appreciate the tremendous job the power companies do.
In less than 150yrs man has completed his conquest over nature by:-
Using fossil fuel to ignore 10,000yrs of home building knowledge and build any building, anywhere we wanted;
Burn away the night and move to a 24hr day;
Disregard the local climate and burn fuel to meet our temperature needs.
Fossil fuel has powered the industrial revolution; the post industrial revolution and likely the 21st century economy. Living in South Carolina I have to say I love what it has done. I can comfortably live in 100% humidity and temperatures in excess of 90’, 8 months of the year without breaking a sweat, thanks to the power companies.
Now I have to ask them to change! Stop using energy without thought to our long-term well-being. No longer can these complex and large companies burn the ‘midnight oil’. I am asking every power company in America to stop being ‘Purveyors of Power’ and become something new, something better and more grand; ‘Engines of Efficiency’.
Turn off the lights; we know how innovative and ingenious you are. I have personally visited two power plants and they were awe-inspiring Tim Allen x1000). Now do something immensely more complex, challenging and difficult. Build motion sensors in every room and have the lights turn off automatically, utilize renewable energy, move to all electric vehicles, move to a tiered rate structure, build out a smart grid. Bring us the same 99.7% reliability and do it with zero waste! The laws of physics say it can’t be done, I think you can do it.
The state, the country and all humankind ask you to lead, will you lead us? In a state with regulated energy you have the capacity and support. We all know you have mandated profits and rate controls but within this construct you can also think beyond 20yr energy portfolios and do something we haven’t seen recently, long term planning. What do I mean by this? Let me explain,
I recently read about an english home that was built 400yrs ago, at the time huge oak timbers supported the great hall. The owner planted new trees with the instructions to never cut them down. Through multiple generations time passed and the trees grew. The house changed hands and families but eventually the old timbers dried and cracked. Can we plan tomorrow's energy trees for our children?
So what will it be; ‘purveyors of power’ in total disregard for the costs it could be exerting on the planet, our health and economic common sense or ‘Engines of efficiency’ leading the way for generations of new Americans and a world where everything changes but power availability stays the same.