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OpEdNews Op Eds    H6'ed 3/8/22

Ukraine Again Shows Why Decentralized Energy is Essential

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We lost 45 years to the fossil fuel billionaires and their GOP toadies, who've kept us dependent on fossil fuels to keep their profits high - but still they want more, more, more...

As Putin's war of choice against Ukraine tears that nation apart, his army is in the process of seizing a second nuclear power generating station, which will allow him to cut off power - and thus communications, heat, and water - to large chunks of that nation.

If most households in Ukraine had solar panels on their roofs and battery storage in their basements - as two states in Germany and the US State of California are now requiring for all new construction - blowing up or seizing a central power station would have far less ability to brown out large parts of the country.

Although the United States doesn't (at the moment) face the prospect of warfare on our continent, our centralized power generation stations are similarly vulnerable to foreign or even homegrown militia/terrorist saboteurs who could also brown out an entire city, as they have already tried more than once and I outline in The Hidden History of Big Brother.

Starting with the era of Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, centralized power plants were pretty much the only game in town. President Franklin D. Roosevelt even spent a small fortune in tax dollars to hook them up to rural homes across America through the 1935 Rural Electrification Administration (REA); by 1943 over 380,000 miles of high-tension power lines had been installed in what are now mostly Red states across the nation.

The biggest advantage of centralized power generation today, however, is no longer reliable power (ask any Texan); it's reliable wads of cash to the for-profit electric companies that came to dominate America's power sector after the privatization binge that started in a big way during the Reagan era and went on steroids with Ken Lay's Enron and similar scams nationwide over the past 30 years.

Just look at how Texas governor Greg Abbott encouraged power plant and grid operators to take whatever profits they wanted during that state's energy crisis. After fleecing Texans for hundreds of millions in windfall profits, as the Texas Tribute noted just months ago:

"Abbott received about $4.6 million from oil, gas and broader energy interests, his largest haul ever from those groups in the post-legislative session fundraising period

This was immediately after Texas' electric energy regulator ERCOT's head testified under oath that Abbott had authorized massive price-gouging by his donors against Texas' voters. As Newsweek noted last month:

"Former Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) CEO Bill Magness testified in court on Wednesday about the Republican governor's alleged role in allowing power prices to reach and remain at a maximum cap of $9,000 per megawatt hour, or 150 times the normal rate, according to the Houston Chronicle. More than 4.5 million Texans lost power during the February 2021 crisis, contributing to the deaths of at least 246 people."

It was, the article noted, a billion-dollar windfall for the for-profit power companies and their wealthy executives and investors.

Not so much for average Texans, though, who are still at the mercy of greedy grid and powerplant operators. Had they run off their rooftops, they wouldn't have lost a penny and never would've lost electricity.

Between the fossil fuel industry and politically active fossil fuel billionaires, it's reasonable to estimate that over a billion dollars have been spent in the past 40 years trashing renewable energy mostly through bought-off Republican politicians, setting up climate change disinformation "think tanks" and influencer networks, and supporting rightwing climate-denying media.

Jimmy Carter tried to take them on in 1979 announcing on July 15th of that year his plan to put solar panels on homes across America with the goal of cutting our use of fossil fuels in a big way.

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Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle (more...)

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