Electrical grid doesn’t discriminate | Letter to the editor

  • Wednesday, January 18, 2017 1:30am
  • Opinion

To the editor:

“Green” electric-power-only is not an option. That’s not how an electrical grid works.

Whether wind, solar, coal, gas or hydro generated, all power funnels indiscriminately through the same power lines to reach their destinations. Whether green or dirty, the receiving household doesn’t choose. Rather, power from a myriad of sources flows to each of Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) 1.1 million customers.

Imagine the electrical grid as a water reservoir fed by rivers, streams and underground springs of unknown origin. Whether a droplet that comes out of your kitchen faucet originated in an underground spring or a polluted river, no one knows.

Electrical power, unlike water, cannot be stored in the equivalent of a reservoir.

The second a kilowatt of energy is generated it enters the grid. It flows along wire to where needed, just as water flows through a pipe to where needed. We cannot pick and choose which water droplet we want to wash up in or which energy source we want to use to turn on our lights.

A grid manager, like PSE, is constantly balancing the load, bringing online (or taking off) generators used to fill the gap, and monitoring voltage (the pressure). Too many kilowatts and the line can overheat and burn out. Too little and there’s brownouts or power failures.

Even Bonneville Power, which is 10 percent nuclear, would be mixed with other power sources at the Gorst substation before being fed into the PSE transmission line to Bainbridge.

DAVE MACKENZIE

Bainbridge Island

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