“Meredith Angwin, originally a University of Chicago chemist, has had a long career in the electric power industry. For years she was a project manager at the Electric Power Research Institute, the industry’s cutting innovation center. More recently she has been much involved in the lengthy debate over the future of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. Since its closing in 2014 she has focused her work on the New England power grid, on which she has become a leading expert. Meredith also managed the Ethan Allen Institute’s Energy Education Project for four years.
In this third book from her pen Meredith explains how a power system composed of fuel production and transportation, generators, utilities, transmission companies, distribution companies, ratepayers, and regulators works to light up our homes when we flip a switch. This is an enormous undertaking, worthy of a year-long college course on that broad subject.
Meredith is thoroughly knowledgeable, immensely perceptive, and to her credit, compulsively fair minded to the various interests involved. That said, despite the clarity of her writing this is a challenging book. That’s because the subject matter is so complex, both from a physical standpoint and, more importantly, from a policy standpoint.” — Ethan Allen Insitute October 2020
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“An eye-opening exposé of our grid’s vulnerabilities. The “deregulated” grid is highly political, secretive, overly complex, and unable to meet public needs like reliability, affordability, and low pollution. If you take for granted that the lights go on when you flip a switch, this book may blow your mind. ”
— Joshua S. Goldstein, author of A Bright Future:
How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow
“Reading Angwin’s book is like chatting with an expert who helps you understand the underlying engineering, finances, and policies creating the risks. Her narrative moves back and forth between insightful overviews and specific examples. The book covers many grid attributes, suggesting realistic conclusions without ideological advocacy.” — Dr. Robert Hargraves, Author of Thorium, Energy Cheaper than Coal and co-founder of ThorCon Power
Shorting The Grid
by Meredith Angwin
Shorting the Grid, The Hidden Fragility of Our Electric Grid is an exposé of the insider-ruled practices of the “deregulated” areas of the United States electric grid. The grid in these areas is managed by a regional transmission organization (RTO). Within these organizations, no group is responsible or accountable for grid reliability. The RTO areas have higher retail electricity prices, no way for ordinary citizens to influence decisions, and a more fragile grid. Using the rules and history of the New England grid as an example, the book shows how RTO areas are moving steadily to a future of “rolling blackouts” where the grid operator deliberately cuts power to one section of the grid after another.
Shorting the Grid will show you the hidden problems caused by lack of accountability in grid governance. Americans need to pay attention to how the grid is managed, and not be fooled by simplistic assurances of market forces, all-renewable mandates, endless cheap natural gas, and distributed generation. Hopeful speeches will not keep the lights on. If you assume that the lights will go on when you flip a switch, you need to read this book.