Peak electricity loads and demand


To the Editor:

I hope the giant utility poles springing up around the Island are not a fait accompli. It seems we are going to have to bury our power lines at some point anyway, so waiting may just be a false economy. (Can you imagine the poles growing by that much again someday?)

Interestingly, it is often a relatively brief spike in an area’s annual energy use — the peak load, usually occurring during the afternoon on the hottest days of the year — and the need to meet it that drives power company infrastructure expansion. Perhaps you noticed some of those one megawatt utility portable generators on Island last summer.

Producing more power and the means to distribute it is one approach to satisfying peak demand. Another might be to form an organization dedicated to issuing Island-wide calls for public energy conservation or, “peak alerts,” at these critical junctures. I refer to this as a social network smart grid (SNSG).

Are there enough people on Island during the height of summer who care enough about the environment to make a difference, who might, if made aware of the situation, be willing to participate in a SNSG and, say, postpone the use of an electric clothes dryer (the equivalent of turning off a 4,000 watt light bulb) for several hours in times of extreme heat?

I don’t know, but it might be worthwhile trying to find out.

Thomas Sullivan

Vineyard Haven