Take a look at this pathetic editorial in today’s Charleston Gazette-Mail. The poor old editorial board is dragging along hoping that the PSC’s plan to cut trees will do anything to stop WV blackouts.
Meanwhile, Oak Park, IL, a city about the size of Charleston, WV, is moving forward to create a citywide microgrid using local renewable generation. The purpose of the microgrid is to protect the city from blackouts caused by problems on the regional power grid.
Last year, Oak Park bundled its residential electricity accounts and went out to bid for a new energy supplier. Not only did it end up with a more favorable rate, but the deal included 100 percent renewable energy credits, adding 170 million kilowatt-hours of wind power into the regional grid.
And now, the village has volunteered to be a testing ground for “smart grid” technology that could someday revolutionize the way we generate, transmit, and use electricity. And we’re not talking about just smart meters here — rather, a thoroughly digitized, completely transformed system that is tied into a network of renewable sources like wind and solar, and is capable of “self-healing” during storms and outages.
Of course, power companies in the US don’t know anything about this technology, so Oak Park is teaming with the Korea Smart Grid Institute which has built similar projects in Korea. And because this is cutting edge stuff, the Institute and other researchers are willing to provide significant funding of their own, to keep local electric rates down.
Meanwhile, WV slides further and further behind. Our rates are spent on cutting trees and obsolete technology, while other people invest in supporting themselves and eliminating blackouts using their own decentralized power.