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A recent post by TeacherKen on the editorial by Nicolas Kristoff   focused on the "inequity" of home generators as an example of the dislocations of an unfair tax system.  They both use the image of a home generator as opposed to an improved public infrastructure to make the point that these things happen because of an inequitable tax system that should tax rich individuals in order to build a first class public infrastructure.  As policy, I'm "OK" with their point about the tax system.  Their use of home generators as an image for that policy is misleading, distracting, wrong in important ways, and does not prove or illustrate their point.  I'll be brief below the fold.

Nicolas Kristoff used individual (and expensive) generators in private homes to buttress his argument that taxes on the high income and wealthy (two separate categories) were inadequate to fund a proper infrastructure (link).  TeacherKen summarizes and builds on that point in his post of November 20 (link).

The argument from equity is that while the rest of the world struggles in the darkness of a blackout, the homes of the high income and wealthy are brightly lit from their personal generators, insulating them from the suffering caused by an inadequate tax base to fund public investments (like a power generation and distribution system).

The connection they both draw is misleading; the assertion is probably wrong; and the discussion is inadequate.  It needs to be corrected.

Power Distribution is a complex system. Power is generated from a few key points and distributed through a grid that is interconnected at various points and subdistributed finally to end users.  That distribution grid is the very definition of a "complex system".  Complex systems can get so complicated that it is difficult if not impossible to predict their behavior, let alone manage them.  Power distribution is like that. powerdistribution
(Photo Credit: Bloomberg News; Ken Jones)

Complex Systems characterize our contemporary society.  Complex systems, like the financial industry (symbolically represented as "the stock market" or "wall street"), electrical power distribution, the internet and something as seemingly prosaic as food distribution, characterize the organization of modern society.  Complex systems can fail for unexpected, even unknown reasons.  Complex systems can spin out of control, almost mysteriously. Complex systems are the subject of much advanced non-linear modeling and statistical analysis.  

Complex Systems have vulnerabilities.  At the end of Long Island, between Southampton and Montauk, homes and businesses are at the end of an unreliable network of powerlines and distribution points, 100 miles long, run on contract by a UK power management company whose performance in the recent hurricane has been widely criticized.  It takes much less than a hurricane to disrupt electrical service.  A truck running into a power pole 50 miles away can shut down electricity for tens of thousands of homes.

Complex Systems may be sabotaged by smart opponents.  A recent study by a congressionally supervised research center identified weaknesses in the national distribution grid.  These weaknesses could be exploited by a few people to disable power distribution nationally and plunge tens of millions of homes into darkness for months before the necessary repairs could be made.

Food Distribution is a complex and fragile system.  The growth of corporate farms and the centralization and standardization of food production and food processing has made food distribution a fragile and complex system.  Food distribution is vulnerable to failures at a few points in the transportation network and at a few points in production and distribution centers.  Failures in the national food distribution system would exhaust food supplies in two to three days.

Decentralization is one strength of the internet.  The internet is a complex system that is highly resilient.  As a complex system, it suffers failures many times each day in different places and at different levels of the network.  The system maintains itself through built in redundancy that automatically reroutes messages through alternate routes should a particular route fail.  Decentralization and redundancy have been demonstrated as elements in reinforcing complex systems against random, or deliberately induced, failure.

Multiple Points of power generation is one solution to the instability of power distribution.  Or perhaps that should read, "could be one solution."  Windmills generating power are licensed to deliver power to the network in California.  Water wheels generating hydro power in New England are licensed to deliver power to the network.    Solar panels on the roofs of single family homes in Brooklyn are connected as supply centers to the distribution network.  Multiple points of generation reduce the dependence of the distribution network on a few points of production across vulnerable infrastructure to local points of consumption.

Home Generators should be subject to licensing. Home generators that provide enough power to run an average home today (the average price of which is over $300 thousand) are in the $50 thousand to $100 thousand range.  Smaller generators, like those referred to in the Kistroff/TeacherKen write-ups are convenience devices.  Larger installations typically include buried fuel tanks sufficient for 7 to 10 days of continuous, heavy load, operation.  These installations are monitored by the electrician that was licensed to install them through metering and on-line reporting.  Local communities could require that, in an emergency, power available for use locally by the customer/owner would be limited and the balance of the power directed to the network to support local community requirements.  It is reasonable to expect that power diverted from home use to local distribution could be sufficient to maintain key government, public saftey (police, fire) and public health (hospitals, clinics, etc) and other  services in an emergency.    

Home Generators become part of a distributed generation network.  Decentralized power generation could be a boon to the community in an emergency and a delight to their owners in the event of an ordinary, inconvenient outage.

Distributed Power Generation is like local farming.  By moving the points of production closer to the consumer and by increasing the number of producers, local farming strengthens the food distribution network.  No one objects to that.  Structurally, the idea of distributed power generation is the same thing.

A more equitable income and wealth tax system is desireable.  There are many powerful reasons why.  But it is a mistake to argue or imply that increased infrastructure investment is an alternative to decentralized electrical power production and distribution.  

Infrastructure desperately needs investment. Antiquated infrastructure that struggles to support a modern economy does not need to be replaced.  It needs to be rebuilt in a way that acknowledges the extraordinarily increased burden from the extraordinary increase in population, demands placed by an extraordinarily more complex economy, and risks created by a rapidly changing physical environment.  Infrastructure is a so called "public good" and the cost of a new infrastructure needs to be shared equitably, for sure.  But the investments we make in infrastructure have to be as smart as our problems are complicated.

Large Scale Home Power Generation could be a very good thing.  Powered generators are one possibility.  Extensive solar panel arrays on private homes feeding power to the network are another.  Windmill fields and water wheels in more rural communities might be possible.  Unlike the outcome suggested by Kristoff and TeacherKen, we're likely to have more of all these things, from public and private investment, at the government and family level, especially if the tax code is reformed as it should be.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    Dirigiste vs Free Mkt -6.25/ Libertarian vs Authoritarian -4.72

    by bob in ny on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 06:54:10 AM PST

  •  Bury the damn lines. (6+ / 0-)

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 06:57:55 AM PST

    •  Underground is no more secure than through (7+ / 0-)

      the air. Underground in a place like New York, where there are several stories of service tunnels is not like burying lines in ground that shifts in response to frost and rodents and even earthquakes.
      That our systems have been stripped of redundancy and alternatives is a result of making decisions on the basis of profit in an environment where money has been rationed to provide an advantage to some sectors and disadvantage others.
      In part that's because our public corporations have historically favored those sectors of the population that keep them in power. In part that's because our public corporations have learned to secure their own powers by playing favorites. Not only is the absence of government in private enterprise a total myth, but much of our enterprise, especially the monopolies, are entirely dependent on governmental intervention via legislation and subsidies. Decisions aren't being made on the basis of what works well and efficiently, but on the basis of who benefits.

      We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

      by hannah on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:27:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'd hate to do that in a coastal city. (0+ / 0-)

      While any plan should include contingencies, in a city where ocean water, ground water, and literally hundreds of years of underground utilities mingle, through most of NYC there is literally a lack of knowledge of what's down there.  It's my memory that during one of the MTA expansions, they discovered a subway tunnel that nobody - not even the MTA - knew about.  (Not a conspiracy theory thing - as I recall, it was an abortive attempt at an expansion during the Dual Contracts era, maybe found during the 7 extension to 34th Street?)

      In Los Angeles, it will be easier to fix utility wires after a major earthquake by restringing the lines and replacing broken towers rather than inspecting every inch of an underground system to figure out just where the hell the break is.  Another place where undergrounding isn't everything.

      So... I leave it to the experts.

      "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

      by auron renouille on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:16:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  you are setting up a straw man (28+ / 0-)

    Kristof uses the whole house generators as a proxy for an overall pattern.  Neither his piece nor my post about it is primarily about power generation.  Rather, it is about those people who,being able to afford it, come up with private workarounds for the failure of what should be the commons, including generation and distribution of power.

    You could make your point about local based power generation, which is not btw necessarily more efficient, without having to do as you do in your title and your piece.

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:01:39 AM PST

    •  It is useful to discuss whether power generation (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      twigg, thestructureguy, shaharazade

      should be concentrated or dispersed.  Size matters.  Indeed, there are some who argue that the dangers associated with nuclear power generation are largely a consequence of size -- that, for example, the power plants on submarines are more reliable and much less hazardous.  Which is probably why Russia is stationing its submarines off shore north of the Arctic Circle to generate electricity for people living there in compact residential buildings.
      Too big fails.

      We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

      by hannah on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:36:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, it is useful (6+ / 0-)

        but not in the context of teacherken's Diary, which had nothing to do with power generation except as a metaphor.

        That is why I fail to understand this Diarist's approach.

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        by twigg on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:45:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  my point, which was argumentative ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          debedb

          (but that's a style here!) was simply that it is not a good metaphor and it clouds a really important point about the really complex nature of infrastructure renewal.  clouding the point with misleading metaphors is a problem.

          Dirigiste vs Free Mkt -6.25/ Libertarian vs Authoritarian -4.72

          by bob in ny on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:57:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  We are going to disagree (5+ / 0-)

            I thought the points raised by teacherken and Kristof argued well how wealthy folk respond to failing infrastructure, when the response we need is to repair the infrastructure.

            In fact .... they both could have gone much further and discussed the growing band of "Preppers", which themselves describe the climate of fear and the lack of responsible governance.

            I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
            but I fear we will remain Democrats.

            by twigg on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 08:07:37 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I looked at some of the "Prepper" sites (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              twigg

              That's really a different response than these generators, a wealthy family's toy, which is how I view the popularity of home generators in certain communities, the ones I think the authors were referring to.  The Prepper stuff is on the verge of being scary, like a bad movie.  

              Thank you for your comments.

              Dirigiste vs Free Mkt -6.25/ Libertarian vs Authoritarian -4.72

              by bob in ny on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 08:27:57 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Just extend the metaphor (0+ / 0-)

                and not very far.

                You quickly get from buying a generator to make up for the lack of infrastructure, to "prepping" for catastrophe when the infrastructure fails completely.

                I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
                but I fear we will remain Democrats.

                by twigg on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 09:40:40 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  I think they were talking about the psychology of (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            misterwade, twigg, suesue

            wealth more than they were the practicals of energy distribution.

            You can't make this stuff up.

            by David54 on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 08:23:17 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, he could (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      misterwade, chuckvw, kurt, suesue, Larsstephens

      I have no idea why the Diarist chose to structure his point in this manner.

      It invites readers to go to the sources and compare.

      In this case ... You, and Kristol win, hands down.

      I think the Diarist here has missed the point you were making which is a pity, because in my humble view, you made it very well.

      One of your better Diaries.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      by twigg on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:38:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  i agree with the policy point (0+ / 0-)

        the use of private home generators as a metaphor supports the point, but used this way, it clouds the question of rebuilding the power distribution infrastructure.  I didn't argue the policy point, and I said so.  I objected to the use of that metaphor.

        there are other problems with the exact example:  the price point of houses with generators should be looked at again, i am sure it is much higher; $10k generators are still on the small side and cannot replace the current a typical house draws (100 or 200 amps is common; 400 amps is not unusual).  

        the really large systems have the quality of being a rich man's toy.  but they could also play an important role if they were properly licensed and regulated.

        Dirigiste vs Free Mkt -6.25/ Libertarian vs Authoritarian -4.72

        by bob in ny on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 08:08:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  rich man's toy... (0+ / 0-)

          The problem for society is that the rich man will install his toy regardless of rules or regulation. Having the means is seen as the equivalent to being entitled.

          Proper isolation from the grid so it does not feed back into downed power lines, does not suck natural gas out of the utility lines at the expense of others etc. fuel trucks tearing up the streets etc.

          Never mind pollution, a major problem in India's cities, but perfectly transferable to America's cities.

      •  agreeing with twigg and others here (6+ / 0-)

        bob in ny gets way out in the weeds (interesting topic to be sure) but his premise doesn't resonate with me. Kristoff and Ken clearly made the point that folks with enough money can provide "public" services for themselves when the public system fails, while others cannot.  

        The power generation decentralization ideas are certainly interesting, but I don't see where you make the jump from the Kristoff/Ken argument to the power generation argument.  

  •  also if you are going to use my name (8+ / 0-)

    you should note that it contains no capital letters

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:05:15 AM PST

  •  You're not supposed to use other kossack's names (8+ / 0-)

    in your diary title.

    Also, teacherken's response to you is spot on, and I have nothing to add to it.

    This could be a very interesting diary worthy of more discussion if you change the presentation of it.

    P.S. I am not a crackpot.

    by BoiseBlue on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:30:22 AM PST

    •  He can use the name (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thestructureguy, debedb, suesue

      He cannot use the name to "call-out" another Kossack, which he didn't do.

      He offered a well thought out critique, that I happen to disagree with.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      by twigg on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:36:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  naw. He used teacherken's fame (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg, BoiseBlue

        And beloved status around here to draw eyes to his point about decentralized power generation.  That screws with his acceptability.  His points about power generation deserved their own post, not to be piggybacked onto criticizing someone else's post.
        He delegitimized himself.

    •  I think the diarist is misguided, but this isn't (0+ / 0-)

      a call-out diary.  It's a thoughtful response, even if I think wrong on a few key assumptions.  I hate to get all Supreme Court on you but I think we know a call-out diary when we see one :).

      Thankfully, they are now so universally reviled that they get squished like a cockroach when they do pop up.

      "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

      by auron renouille on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:30:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting informaion (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, chuckvw, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, suesue

    But you take Mr Kristof's metaphor too literally. The wealthy have workarounds unavailable to the masses. That much is undeniable, regardless of which complex system is addressed.

  •  I rather think (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, Chi, chuckvw, shaharazade, suesue

    that you missed the point of teacherken's Diary.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:41:05 AM PST

  •  the real lesson (0+ / 0-)

    Is how poorly we as a species prepare/react to a disaster and analyze risk.  People tend to overestimate the odds of something that just happened of happening again.  Perhaps I've just forgotten, but in my memory of ~30 years, I can remember losing power for a troubling amount of time exactly once.  October 2011 during the snowstorm we lost power for 5 days.  The vast majority of outages are less than 5 minutes[and those are only once or twice a year] and the rest are less than 12 hours[which is a minor inconvenience at worst].  In what rational universe does it make sense to get a generator even if you have money to burn?  Can't a rich person once every 20-30 years stay at a hotel and replace some of their food that goes bad?  

    I had friends growing up whom despite living in one of the best public school districts in the state went to private school.  Or people that filter their tap water because they are under some delusion that the public water isn't safe to drink.  Are these really a private workaround to a public shortcoming, or is it just stupid rich people burning money?  I would argue the latter.

    •  over value comfort/convenience? (0+ / 0-)

      we could overestimate the odds of risk or well off folks could over value their comfort and convenience.  the two may lead to a similar result!

      as my signature line indicates, i am much more on the "dirigiste" side of economic issues.  sometimes i wonder if we don't have too many choices.  but sometimes the solutions to complex situations can lead to distributed or decentralized solutions which I think is interesting.

      Dirigiste vs Free Mkt -6.25/ Libertarian vs Authoritarian -4.72

      by bob in ny on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 08:03:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  In the last 30 years, depending on where you live (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt

      there have been major power outages that lasted weeks.

      Just in my small sphere of life,

      My elderly parents were without power in Jefferson County in Northern New York for over 2 weeks back in the 90's. It was a notorious ice storm that paralyzed the area. They became dehydrated, undernourished and were losing their sanity. Neither I nor anyone else in our family lived close enuf/nor were allowed to travel up Rt 81 to help them. I called from CT where I was living and told Niagara Mohawk that my parents were really in trouble. It could have been a coincidence or not, but within 12 hours of my call, 'NiMo' was visiting their road and restoring power.

      I agree with the commenter that mentioned we need to bury power lines.

      Yes, it is impractical in some areas like large cities. But in rural areas, new power lines should have been buried as they were being developed to electrifiy new areas being settled.

      You could argue that my folks should :

      #1) no longer have been living on their own (can you spell 'pride and stubborness"?)
      #2) have saught shelter elsewhere. There were no shelters vacant. Forget the hotels.
      #3) have had a generator. Yup, couldn't agree more.

      Rural America faces much different adversity than city dwellers. I have lived in large metro areas and been flashed, sexually assaulted and inconvenienced by poor transportation. I faced roach infested apartments and horribly psychotic roommates. I have been rent poor, but was without heat for narry 12 hours, once, in about 30 years.

      Now living in the sticks, we face different hardships. It's a choice.
      I drink bottled water, but cook with tap water. Our well water was tested when we moved in, and passed for drinking. But, that doesn't mean it is particularly tasty. And when you soften it so you don't have pipes totally gummed up with deposits, you have added salt to your diet. So, I prefer to limit how much I drink.

      Choices. Always choices. What is good for some is totally disastrous or downright dangerous for others.

      I nominate Susan Rice for Secretary of State!

      by karma13612 on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 09:14:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think both are missing the point (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Poika, kurt

    Home generators are usually used for supplying temporary power -- it gets expensive quickly to power a home off of one.    People with generators are not (if they are rational) planning to go solo off of the grid.   Off grid people use wind and solar and design their lives around the concept.

    I do know of remote places on BC that are off grid and powered only by generators, but they run only for a couple of hours a day.     It is like living on a boat (which I have), you run the generator a couple of hours each day to recharge the batteries that power the inverter and your DC systems.   You carefully monitor the use of power and use other fuels for heat and cooking.

    So the idea that rich people are disconnecting themselves from the grid so they don't have to pay for common services is a bit of a nonstarter for me.   A lot of my neighbors have generators (and they are not rich), and our community has a generator for its well.   For people with freezers full of food (which they may have caught or grown themselves) it is a sensible precaution like having a surge supressor.    There are people who can't afford surge supressors, but I wouldn't argue that those who can are selfish parasites who care nothing about the commons.

    Generators for emergency use do not have to be expensive (although wiring one in can cost a bit.)   Again like being on a boat you have to think about what loads you need; enough to keep the freezer going and power some lights.   You do not usually try to power the whole house.     Of course if you have an all-electric kitchen or all-electric heat (or require air conditioning) then you are into the realm of expensive generators but I consider that poor planning for anybody in an area subject to natural disruptionn of power.

  •  In 73 or 74, I lived in Greenwich, CT. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade, mamamorgaine, kurt, pgm 01, suesue

    I rented a small Cape Cod from a woman who had built the house for her gardener at the back of her estate. George C. Scott's estate joined hers and his dog would sometimes visit my dog. Lowell Weicker lived down the lane, and somebody named Rockefeller lived across the lane, his mailbox and mine were side by side. The Fawcetts of publishing fame lived not far away in a house as big as a hotel.

    That winter an ice storm came and tree limbs crashed across power lines. My furnace would not work without power. It was cold and we slept in front of the fireplace for a week. On the first morning of the outage I walked outside and I could hear generators running in all directions. Big ones for big houses. It made me feel even colder.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 10:09:26 AM PST

  •  I don't think they misargued their points, but I (0+ / 0-)

    do think you brought up good points as well.    I think there is a trade-off to be had in terms of public good and decentralization, and that perhaps the way to go is to both improve the existing central grid AND to set aside funds for local neighborhood level emergency power generation, rather than to go all the way down to single family duplication of everything.  It reminds me of the talk about the design of Levittown being so as to foster the need for every homeowner to purchase all sorts of equipment, (lawnmowers, rakes, snowshovels, etc) so that the most consumer goods could be sold.

  •  Note: generators burn 3 to 10 gallons per HOUR (0+ / 0-)

    One thing that people might not realize is how much fuel a generator will use.    On a boat I only use the generator for a couple of hours every other day or so, but boats are designed with batteries and mainly DC (battery power) systems.   Most houses are not designed that way so the generator has to be run whenever power is required, such as to run the refrigerator.

    So if Mr rich guy thinks he is going to run off of the grid on his generator, he had better be able to handle burning 72 gallons per day to get equivalent performance as from the electric company.   Even if he doesn't mind a $9,000 monthly electric bill (for a small house that only uses 20KW, about 200 light bulbs equiv.) storing over 2000 gallons of diesel is not trivial.   I would imagine that there are some EPA rules for fuel tanks that big, and aside from that problem you also have to deal with the fact that diesel does not store indefinitely -- after a couple of years you would have to replace it all.   If you live in a nice area like waterfront you probably don't have enough land to store 2000 gallons of diesel, and if you put the tank underground you definitely run into EPA rules.

    Of course he might think that he can us a smaller tank and refuel from the local filling station, but if Sandy and Katrina (or even the Hannukah day storm in Seattle) taught us anything, it is that gas stations require electricity to pump.

    Now the generator will use less fuel when the load is lighter, but that leads to another problem which is that lightly loaded diesels "clog up".   (This is true even for modern "high pressure common rail" diesels despite what salesmen will tell you.)     To use any AC power at all, the rich guy will be well advised to turn on all of his lights and electric heaters to ensure that the generator has a good load.

    So generators are really just a short term solution to providing electric power, which given that we live in a stable country with a good government is probably all they are needed for.

  •  So here's my question... (0+ / 0-)

    You want, in the case of an emergency, for these generators to be able to give their power to the electrical grid for emergency services?

    It sounds like a great idea but here's the problem - in most areas, the power is only off for extended periods during an exceptional event (there are some exceptions - when I lived in the rural midwest, we lost power for a day every time someone sneezed).  So if the power is only off for extended periods during an exceptional event and during those events Scrooge McDuck is going to have to give most of his power to the grid, why would McDuck bother to get a generator at all?  And if McDuck does get a generator, he's got a huge incentive to not license it and hope for the best, knowing that he will be unlikely to ever be penalized.

    Anyhow, so McDuck does unload his power into the grid - the power rarely goes out because of a lack of electricity (brownouts are very, very, very uncommon outside of areas along the Eastern Seaboard which are ill-equipped for the exceptional demand of a handful of the hottest summer days - even there, they have gotten rarer and rarer).  Rather, people lose power because the connections between parts of town are damaged during a storm.  So if McDuck can't get power from his local substation, who's to say he can GET power to that substation to be rationed and redirected to those who need it?  On top of that, when the power has been taken out due to damage, utility workers need to physically go out and inspect before reconnecting everyone; if they flip the switch and hope for the best, something awful could happen.  Odds are, those resources, instead of going out and inspecting a single person's (duck's :) ) house, would probably be better servicing the macro problem of the damage.

    Great idea in theory, nigh impossible to implement in practice.

    Now, if you could find a way to implement it in a place like India or other countries where brownouts are extremely common, you'd have yourself an idea; in a crowded but poor city, crowd-sourcing multiple sources of power generation such as solar and generators might be a way to contribute to the stability of the grid as a whole.  But here, not so much.

    "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

    by auron renouille on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:27:34 PM PST

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