Power Outages as Another Warning Sign

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Rhode Islanders should take stories like Mark Reynolds’s in The Providence Journal as yet another warning sign that what can’t go on forever won’t:

As of 6:45 a.m. Tuesday, 83,227 homes and businesses were without power, according to National Grid’s website. Late Tuesday night, 102,432 had been without power.

The effort to restore power will be a “multiday effort,” a spokesman for National Grid said Monday.

The central purpose of government is to ensure baseline security and resilience, and infrastructure is near the top of that list.  When government becomes too big, insiders find it much more profitable to themselves to pursue other things first and to let their boring responsibilities suffer.

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We appear to have reached the point, in Rhode Island, that government’s apparent first priority is to promise things, but not necessarily to manage to deliver them well.  Combine all of these power outages from a wind storm with the UHIP debacle and ask yourself:  Do you think the resources we allocate for government will have us properly prepared when something really terrible happens?

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  • Irony

    “The central purpose of government is to ensure baseline security and
    resilience, and infrastructure is near the top of that list.” So are you recommending that the government take over the private sector utilities to improve performance?

    • Justin Katz

      No, but government meddles in a number of ways, especially because power is a public utility. The areas surrounding the wires typically fall within the public domain, as do the mandates that force electric companies to spend money on other things than maintenance.

      • Rhett Hardwick

        Justin, not sure what you mean by “public domain”. National Grid has eminent domain powers. The then “power company” took acres off of us for power lines. It now belongs to National Grid.

        • Justin Katz

          I mean that there are power lines along roads and the like, but there are trees alongside the roads that state and local governments have at least some degree of authority over. That’s just the first example that comes to mind, but I’m sure there are others.

    • Rhett Hardwick

      “So are you recommending that the government take over the private sector utilities to improve performance?” Oh sure, I choose to forget FEMA took 7 days to get water to New Orleans,.

      RE: National Grid. Those people I have talked to, National Grid is a British company, tell me that in Europe the majority of their main lines are underground.

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