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Monday, 10 December, 2018
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For Want Of An Amp

Date: 15 October, 2006

By: Chief

Imageell, well, well — a deep subject, to be sure. After a long, cold and real wet winter, summer showed up and proceeded to kick butt and take names. Names such as Los Angeles, California; Saint Louis, Missouri and Queens, New York — just to name a few.

It's hotter than the hammered hinges of hell in those areas and others. So people do what they normally do when things heat up. They turn on their air conditioners and try to cool off. I don't blame people for attempting to beat the heat. I would too. In fact I do fire up our swamp cooler. Named her Swamp Fox (we name everything — see).

And, believe it or not, therein lies one of the big differences. Here at the house we do not have a refrigerative air conditioner. We have and use, a lot, an evaporative cooler, also known as a swamp cooler.

Home air conditioners suck up electricity like it is going out of style and in the case of the above named cities not only was electricity being used like it was going out of style, it did go out of style. Power outages up the wahzoo. Over a week without electricity in Queens and St. Louis.

Additionally, some states, California in particular, were on the verge of having 'rolling black outs' ordered in various parts of the state.

Not good and, far more importantly, there was no reason for it.

There are several reasons why these various and sundry power outages should not have occurred. Here are a few of them in no particular order:

Back in 1960 or thereabouts a house normally had a total of 60 amps provided to the main fuse panel from the utility company. Today the normal house is provided with 200 - 240 amps. That is a four fold increase.

Our total population back in 1960 was approximately 177 million people. As of the end of this year we will hit the 300 million mark. Basically that is an increase of 123 million people. All requiring electricity.

Guess what? The power companies have not kept up with the demand. No new power plants have been built in years. Additionally most public utilities only upgrade their equipment when they are forced to. As was pointed out in the Queens, New York power outage — old equipment and weak transmission lines bit the big one leaving the residents of Queens — in the dark for over a week. Inexcusable.

Furthermore the environmental wacko groups have been able to have laws enacted and regulations put in place which either out right kill or delay building a new power plant for upwards of a decade. And if all else fails the wackos sue in an attempt to either kill or delay the project for as long as possible.

Our elected politicians do not give a hoot one way or the other. Whoever greases their palm with a considerable bribe, er, campaign contribution will usually get what they desire. All the while We the People are left holding the bag in a dark and sweltering house.

As this is primarily a state by state issue the citizens of the deleteriously affected (electrically challenged perhaps?) states should get off their collective back sides and demand — not ask — that laws and regulations be changed forthwith to enable building of new power generation plants. If the legislature of the affected state ignores the citizenry then those legislators should find themselves in the unemployment line at the end of the next election if not recalled sooner.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the federal stumbling block on the road to building more power plants. Indeed the EPA can and does screw up everything they touch. Therefore it is incumbent upon We the People to demand from our federal elected politicians that the laws and regulations which govern the conduct of the EPA be changed in order to get additional power plants built. Again, if the Congress turns a deaf ear towards We the People — we'll give the wretched dirtbags the boot at the next election. They will learn that way.

However, even if the Congress, the various affected states and their legislatures listened and adhered to what We the People demanded, building a bunch of new power plants is not going to happen over night. It just ain't possible. Yeah start building the plants and upgrading both equipment and transmission lines — it does need to be done — but between now and then, what can we citizens do? Plenty.

For one thing, if you live in an area of low humidity such as the Central Valley of California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Phoenix, Arizona; El Paso, Texas and so on and you have air conditioners installed in your house, you might just want to change them out for swamp coolers (evaporative coolers).

Swamp coolers

A swamper:

To put things into perspective, the total population of the cities of Bakersfield, Fresno and Sacramento (all in California) is approximately 1,211,000 people. If all those people switched to swamp coolers instead of air conditioners the result would be the same as having only 811,000 people. That is a whole lot less electricity being demanded during the heat of the day. There are also business and industry swamp coolers available for stores and commercial enterprises.

Another thing which people can do is to replace their overhead lights with a ceiling fan/light combination. They really work wonders. We have five of them in our house. Installed them all myself.

Now with five ceiling fans and one swamp cooler running how much is our monthly electric bill during summer months? About 100.00 dollars. Not bad. Not bad at all. A couple of our friends use air conditioners instead. Their bills are anywhere from 300.00 to 500.00 greenbacks per month during summer and early fall. A big difference wouldn't you say?

The choice is yours.

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