[Beowulf] Electricity cost: a critical survival issue of our ICT infrastructures.

Douglas J. Trainor trainor at prescience.org
Mon Apr 8 22:57:34 PDT 2013

Mark et al.,

Jim Lux has some points.  over here in southeastern Pennsylvania (USA), the power monopoly Exelon (although it goes by other names here and elsewhere) shut down their local aging natural gas power plant purely on economic grounds (maybe not the best design and some accumulation of nucleotide sludges), and recently had to setup all kinds of substation(s) to handle diversion of the local output from their twin nuke reactors and hyperbolic cooling towers just around the corner.  i used to drink pints with the pipe welders at the aging gas plant -- they were going gangbusters before Exelon shut down the op, and later i met many of the plant engineers at the nuke, who would anticipate their Bloody Mary's after work back at the temporary housing Exelon would pay for every 6 months.  Exelon and i used the same B&B for our good folks: their engineers and my mom.  the company that provided the guards at the nuke plant all got fired after someone squealed that they and/or the ones with machine guns were sleeping on the job, so now we have a new contract crew on that.

i asked when i got here why electricity was so expensive given that there are two nukes within visual inspection of our little town, and what i got back was that the energy from them was actually being sold to Canada under some long term contract.  now we're stuck sucking tritium water dilution spills in our local tap.  the state (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) Environmental Protection Agency didn't even bother to let us know they had a major on-site tritium spill that was coming up from manholes on site.  Philadelphia also gets its water from the same river, though we get it first…  a local newspaper got the info on a kind of "freedom of information" request about Exelon trying to massively dilute the spill into the local river, to claim it got into the river just below federal limits.  i've surmised that one political party has crippled the local agency in terms of action due to defunding or threats or something i don't understand, it's not just this issue, but multiple issues.  here, electrical generation costs were politically brokered to basically let in others on the generation side while infinitely extending the local delivery monopoly (Exelon at the top) getting about half for delivery and keeping their monopoly for crappy pole wiring that gets thwacked by aging oak and maple trees not being trimmed before the winter storms and taking down lines during storms.  personally and professionally, i switched to solar and wind renewables on the generation side even though my current contract costs about one cent per kilowatt-hour more than Exelon.

maybe my cluster is only half dirty now!  i try and do good with it to offset the infrastructure.  i'd move to someone's cloud with better electricity if i could trust the security enough.  i'm okay with turning 95% of the cluster off when i don't need to compute, ala what Donald Becker said once in an email on this list.  he used to work for my father's science shop at NASA/Goddard.  there's at least another whole post on what my father told me about how screwed up electricity generation was in California and why (he told me after he retired), but i'll never tell that story on the web.  my folks retired to a little beach town in southern California after his retirement from NASA and a bunch of agencies that we don't know about.

here, the ballpark figure on increased electrical costs to the end user after so-called "deregulation" or so-called "free market" shenanigans is 20%.


On Apr 8, 2013, at 8:46 PM, Mark Hahn <hahn at mcmaster.ca> wrote:

>> Energy cost will massively grow within this and next decade because of
>> decreasing oil and gas supply and rapidly growing electricity demand.
> I'm not sure where you get this.  in north america, for instance,
> there has been a fairly dramat increase in available energy (from new
> sources of natural gas, mainly), while electrical demand has been
> *falling* for years (at least in my part of Canada).
> […]

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