Now, it’s overhead

So, following up on the last post about transmission lines, I was talking with an environmental engineer about whether a new grid system as such would be overhead like we are accustomed to seeing, or buried, as other public infrastructure improvements in sewage and fiber optics have been. Without recreating the discussion I’ll try to hit some of the high notes.

A lot of this is already happening – burying supply lines – which loses much less power in transmission with some of the new technology utilized to deliver the load to absorption or reflection points. Plus, he muted the point about the high costs of installation and maintenance of underground wires with the high costs of overhead wires brought on by perfectly predicatable events like ice storms. Overtime crews, trucks in the field – these things, too, have a cost.

There is a bigger, hidden idea behind this transformer transformation, if you will, that does not change now matter how much more renewable energy we can generate and even connect from remote locations where it’s captured to more densely populated areas where it is needed. The compulsion to say/think we can replace present energy consumption levels, whether it is for electricity or for transportation, must be overwhelmed. This is where the plans and discussion stop making sense and venture into territories unknown, and, coincidentally, where we usually tune out.

We’ve got to use less of the stuff, whatever it is but definitely energy – plus, we’ve got to figure out how we can still have jobs for people to do. But before we can even get to that part, the reality of using less must be reconciled. Until it is, that’s the dark cloud following us around.