In this episode, Tucker welcomes Chemist and Energy Analyst Meredith Angwin, who has written an eye-opening exposé about the vulnerabilities our electric grid. The book, Shorting the Grid, The Hidden Fragility of Our Electric Grid, couldn’t be more timely this year with so much attention focused on electric grid issues in states like Texas and California.
Angwin’s book explores 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. 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.
As a working chemist, Meredith Angwin headed projects that lowered pollution and increased reliability on the electric grid. Her work included pollution control for nitrogen oxides in gas-fired combustion turbines and corrosion control in geothermal and nuclear systems. She was one of the first women to be a project manager at the Electric Power Research Institute where she led projects in renewable and nuclear energy. In the past ten years, she began to study and take part in grid oversight and governance. She teaches courses and presents workshops on the electric grid.
Angwin talks to Tucker about how Americans need to pay attention to how the electric distribution system is managed and how we need to bulletproof the grid if we want everything to be electric.