Meredith Angwin

Energy Analyst & Author

In my forthcoming book, Shorting the Grid, I present the situation and the choices as they currently exist on the grid. I avoided doing too much speculation. As I have often said, “Look out for the word could.” As soon as someone begins to talk about what we “could” do, I get suspicious.

For example, many renewable groups wrote that the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant could be replaced by renewables. They wrote white papers explaining how this could be done. In actuality, when Vermont Yankee closed, its power was replaced, pretty much kWh by kWh, by gas-fired power plants. Could runs up against physics (many renewables are intermittent) and economics (most renewables need subsidies to compete with conventional plants). At that point…could loses. Indeed, we all lose, as zero-emissions plants like Vermont Yankee are closed, with great hopes for what could, perhaps, happen.

Recently, I was on interviewed on a podcast about my book. Originally, I was definitely going to stay off podcasts until my book was available. But Dr. Chris Keefer of Decouple was very persuasive about his desire to interview me and hear my opinions on the California fires. So I sent him a pdf of my book, complete with “draft” watermarks, and appeared on his podcast.

All those automobiles

I enjoyed being interviewed by Keefer. He had read the book quite carefully, and had good questions about the real situations on the grid. Near the beginning of the podcast, he mentioned that we were going to have lots of analogies to automobiles. Indeed, until he interviewed me, I had not realized how many automobile analogies I had in the book! For example: stop and go driving is low mileage compared to highway mileage. When gas plants back up intermittent renewables, the gas plants are forced into the equivalent of stop and go driving. Under these circumstances, the gas plants have lower fuel efficiency and make more pollution per kWh than if they were running steadily. In another example, I described big trucks as baseload plants (steady performers, not much acceleration) versus quick flexible sports cars. “We don’t need baseload” is the equivalent of “goods can be carried cross country in sports cars.” Keefer and I had a lot of fun.

Decouple podcast describes “technologies that decouple human well being from their ecological impacts.”

Here’s the podcast: Shorting the Grid Feat. Meredith Angwin

The book itself

And hey, what about the actual book, Shorting the Grid: The Hidden Fragility of Our Electric Grid? Do I have a release date yet? No, but the one thing that remains to be done is that the cover has to be approved. You see, covers have spines, and spines are as thick as the book is thick, so the cover is the very last thing to be settled.

Update: Release on October 19! Book is Number One in New Releases in Electric Energy!

Shorting the Grid will be released on Monday October 19. The Kindle and softcover version will be available. The Kindle can be pre-ordered now. The book is currently listed as #1 New Release in Electric Energy!

I believe the hardcover version will also be available that day, though I am not sure of that.