The following is an excerpt from Lewis Tagliaferre's online column "Bottom Line
Issues." To view this column in its entirety, go to (Bottom
Line Energy Issues
National Power Grid Finally Discussed
Missing from all the energy fingerpointing has been discussion about expanding
and upgrading the nation's transmission lines into a true national grid to
permit power to flow in accordance with market principles. Now, Energy Secretary
Spencer Abraham has discussed proposals in the Bush-Cheney plan to develop
a national electric grid modeled on the interstate highway system, but without
federal supports. He called this move a necessary step toward creation of
a free energy market and stated the current regional model is "why electricity
deregulation has failed to work properly." Amen.
For example, if a power-generating company in New England wants to sell electricity
in Ohio, it must negotiate with many transmission line owners to use their
lines to get it there, pancaking rates upon rates and driving up delivery
cost and risk. Currently, there are only three regional grids: The Western
Interconnection, the Eastern Interconnection, and the Electric Reliability
Council of Texas.
The Bush Administration wants a national grid so states can bring in power
from any direction. In some states, like Florida, there is insufficient line
capacity connecting through adjacent states. Believe it or not, only two transmission
lines allow power transfers between Texas and the Eastern Interconnection,
but no connection at all with the West. Such issues would need to be addressed
and solved in a national grid policy because consumers, producers, investors,
and regulators all have a stake in the outcome. One daunting technical challenge
will be finding a way of synchronizing thousands of generators so their outputs
do not cancel each other. It will be like conducting a symphony orchestra
with each musician located throughout the country.
The Lower Colorado River Authority in Austin, TX, is getting a head start
in an agreement to build up to $500 million transmission projects to help
improve capacity and reliability of the grid in South and West Texas. A tax-paying
affiliate company called LCRA Transmission Services Corp. will finance and
own the improvements. Ohio-based American Electric Power will build and maintain
the transmission projects, according to the Public Power Weekly report.
Lewis Tagliaferre is a contributing editor to Buildings.com. Please forward
your comments and questions directly to him at .lewtag
Silent for over 40 years, the St. George vs. the Dragon mechanical clock, which
sits atop Jersey Loew's Theatre in Jersey City, NJ, sprung to life this summer.
Friends of the Loew's, a dedicated volunteer organization based in Jersey City,
renovated the grand old clock as part of its overall revitalization of the beautiful
1929 movie palace. The clock, made by the famous Seth Thomas Clock Co. in Thomaston,
CT, is one of a handful of animated clocks in the United States.
Hurriedly installed in 1929, the clock was set in place without its shock-absorbing
springs. Eventually, the massive bell that chimes the hour caused damage to
the terra cotta cupola housing the clock. The clock was silenced during the
1960s to prevent further structural damage. Fortunately, all the original parts
remained intact - right down to the wooden clock hands frozen at 6:30. Volunteers,
with the help of experts from Lebanon, NJ-based Antique Clock Gallery, dismantled
the clock and carefully refurnished the pieces.
Now in perfect working order, the fearsome dragon breathes fire (with a red
light bulb), gnashes its jaws, and menaces St. George, who, in turn, parries
and thrusts his lance hourly. The "re-clocking" ceremony featured
a performance and an art show from the students of the visual and performing
arts department of City College, Jersey City, in the theater's ornate main lobby
space. Theatrical shorts and the 1960 science fiction film, Time Machine, were
The newly restored clock marks a fresh beginning for the historical and beautiful
Jersey Loew's Theatre as a not-for-profit arts center and adds a bit of whimsy
to downtown Jersey City. The New Jersey Enterprise Zone Authority, New Jersey
Historical Trust, and municipal government provided funding for the project.