Friday, February 4, 2011


News from the Southwest United States and especially Texas should serve as a wakeup call for all of us.  Natural gas shortages and rolling blackouts are taking place in New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and California and there are various reasons why, but I want to make some key points of concern we all need to think about.

First off, this isn’t new to Texas.  They had prior shortages and blackouts and part of that can be blamed on the weather.  Both situations have happened during unseasonably cold weather and unexpected energy use skyrockets.  Texas is also on its own grid system and therefore is not able to take power from other US sources and in this case has relied on Mexico to send power.  Indiana is part of a larger Regional Transmission Operator that can send power to us from far away points of production if our need arises.

Second, and I think most concerning is that this shows that with growth in population and economy energy production must also keep up.  Many people suggest energy conservation and renewable power is cleaner and effective in reducing the need for new power plants.  This is nice theory but simply conservation and renewable power cannot totally reduce the need for new production facilities and Texas is the perfect example of what we could face when our production capacity cannot keep up with demand.

The basic issue is that nuclear, coal and natural gas are the three major sources of power that can work 24/7 and are reliable to the user.  When either new natural gas wells are not allowed to come on line, or new power production facilities are disallowed, utilities begin to scramble when unlikely weather conditions can change usual patterns.  Unfortunately if new production continues its slow nearly non-existent rise due to political concerns and bureaucratic barriers, then situations like these will not only happen when there is extraordinary weather but these shortages and rolling blackouts could become more frequent and in more places in the United States.

Shortages and blackouts would be new to almost all Americans and send quite a shock into the economy.  While many countries deal with shortages and blackouts as daily life, they are also countries that cannot support large industries and  a thriving economy because of unreliable energy.  The thing is , the United States doesn’t have to go this direction, we have the technologies and resources to use our coal, nuclear and natural gas more efficiently and cleaner.  Make sure you take the time to learn more about how the US gets it energy and where it all comes from.  A good site is the Energy Information Administration:

Stay warm and safe Indiana.

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