We all pay our electric and gas bills in winter with more urgency than in summer because cold can kill you.  Without both electricity and gas modern furnaces will not function.  So we pay and think that the cold will be at bay for a month.  Then my family gets this letter which I was only made aware of by my parents yesterday.   ComEd the local electric utility and a corporate subsidiary of Exelon  is going to shut off the power for about 240 minutes between the hours of 8AM and 4PM.  When asked if they will give any warning on the day of this shut off, say a phone call alerting people, I was told no. That outage window which comprises the entirety of the winter daylight hours in Chicagoland and right now, is all they were told.   The initial agent told me they could sent a “request for response” to the group that does the electrical work, and could get one in three business days, meaning Thursday.   

ComEd Cancelled the planned outage ... I wonder why? 

Photo of letter from ComEd the local utility which states that the power will be shut off on Jan 10 for maintenance.

Then I was passed on to a supervisor and I explained the following things.  My father who is in his mid-70’s and who has COPD is on an oxygen concentrator much of the time.  He needs it to keep his breath.  Moving him is not a simple or easy task.  I did not tell them of this fact, but he is also legally blind.  I mentioned my certainty that there are people in this area who are in full  hospice situations, based on the age of many of the homeowners, and cannot be moved easily what should folks like that do.  I was told “Typically our customers turn up their furnace real high a few hours before so they can stay warm.” And “We gave reasonable notice, its going to be 51 degrees (F) on Wednesday…” They did not know that when the letter went out on the 31st.  In fact at that time one would assume that we were going to have a constant bear of a winter.   Furthermore, in Chicago the forecast can go from 51 F in two days to -20F real quick this time of year.


A Libertarian and Environmentalist Case For Solar Panels.

A fine sunny day in January.

 Contrary to a quip often made by the likes of Rush Limbaugh,it can be VERY sunny on the coldest days in a place like Chicago.  No cloud cover, meaning less water vapor in the air locally, so less of a local greenhouse, meaning it gets COLD.  

Remember, the greenhouse effect is what keeps Earth from turning into a snowball.  The problem is if there is too much of it,and IF the response to our exponential increase in CO2 will lead to an exponential, catastrophic change in the climate or a gradual manageable change in the climate.  That is the only real scientific debate.  

For political reasons, people on the other side from a guy like Limbaugh make it sound like the only possibility is a catastrophic sudden change.  Like a big release of methane from the thawed tundra and deep ocean methane hydrates.  While possible, a linear response is more likely based on past observations, which looking at this graph from NOAA would predict a rise in average sea level of 0.6 more meters, for a total rise of 1.2 meters over 200 (1850 to 2050) years.  Let us not hurry to do the experiment either way!

It is also a fact that Nuclear Power in the form of newer better fission reactors which can react away much of their own waste, to future nuclear fusion are key parts of any realistic long-term energy strategy regardless of climate change concerns.  What’s more is they are the key to long term climate change mitigation.  Yet for political reasons, often simply because conservatives like them, often because to many nuclear plants= nuclear bombs, many liberals oppose nuclear power generation.

There is however a real case for wide deployment ofsolar and it is all about power and control of it.

With a centralized collectivized or corporatized power grid like the one in the US and indeed most countries a central authority can shutoff your heat in the winter time and there is NOTHING you can do about it.   If our house had solar panels for heat if not also for electricity, at least, we could hope that the day was sunny.  We could reduce our reliance on a central authority for our own heat and electricity and be more self-reliant.  In fact a solar heating system can be so simple as to not even need special equipment except for a pump to move condensed water back up to the coils in the panels to get heated up.   Snow as an issue can be mitigated by place the panels at an angle of about 45 degrees from vertical.

 Solar heating panels are simple and practical devices which if we were serious could be deployed in the United States of America without the environmental impacts of large scale photoelectric cell production. Solar power can at least help with heating AND cooling.

While not a perfect solution at least given decent weather such would keep the house from freezing when it is winter and the power grid fails by accident or design. 

TLDR: The bastards at ComEd are shutting down power to my family for a day and can't even tell us 15 minutes before hand to shut off our electronics.  Just sometime between 8AM and 4PM.  Ridiculous!   This shows a real libertarian possibly even conservative reason to love solar power and other renewable in addition to the necessary and climate friendly nuclear.