It all sounds so simple.
Here we are, the world's superpower. And we're running on a Third World power transmission system. So what you do is modernize the power grid. Make it more reliable.
It's as easy as that.
But, wait, once you delve into the problem you realize that there's a reason Congress has been dragging its collective heels for years. And the politics of the issue indicate last week's wake-up call, the largest power outage in the nation's history, probably didn't wake up enough people to get the task started, much less accomplished.
Don't dismiss this as a problem for the East that doesn't affect Minnesota. We're all in this together. Our state easily could be thrown into the next blackout area. Fact is, experts say the biggest worries are the Pacific Northwest, California and the Southwest.
With an interconnected power grid one state's problem becomes everyone's problem.
President Bush is pushing for an energy bill that features modernization of the electricity transmission system. Congress has been grappling with the bill for a couple of years. Opponents say it features increased drilling without emphasizing alternative sources of energy.
Now, in the wake of the blackout, Congressional leaders say they should be able to get to work on the matter. But, still, Democrats say they will not give in on the controversial issues. And Republicans say they will insist a comprehensive measure.
So look for more Washington inaction.
Party politics aside, it's the sort of issue that makes normally unpolitical people bristle. The Washington Post reports Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham says modernizing the power transmission system would cost consumers $50 billion. And in the process there would be untold fights on siting the 30,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines. Do you want them in your backyard?
Think of the controversy closer to home over positioning microwave towers. There would be all sorts of arguments against the lines, ranging from health to the looks of the neighborhood. And, in most cases, there would be no eminent domain to get the task accomplished.
In other words: Look for more blackouts, more wake-up calls before the nation gears up to solve this vital issue.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.