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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Smart grids and alternative energy: a plan to bring power production to the people of Manitoba

Brian Doherty Rather than watch Manitoba Hydro and the provincial government develop massive new hydroelectric dams and transmission lines, Les Routledge with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy wants to see power production brought to the people with smart grid technology and alternative energy.

In a recent column provided by Troy Media and published on the Western Standard here, Routledge lays out a plan for decentralized energy production including small scale alternative energy schemes, an idea made possible by smart grid technology that allows even the smallest energy producer to sell excess power back to the grid.

Routledge writes in “Moving Manitoba towards smart energy” that:

At the very minimum, to move to smart grids and distributed energy (i.e. energy generated from many instead of a few locations) would: improve the security of supply of energy across Manitoba; distribute benefits associated with electrical energy production more equitably throughout Manitoba; encourage the adoption of combined heat-and-power energy systems in agricultural, commercial, industrial and institutional settings; reduce greenhouse gas emissions and negative environmental impacts associated with energy mega-project development; create a platform to implement demand-side energy management systems and time-of-use rates; more fully utilize existing electrical transmission and distribution assets throughout Manitoba.

That’s a lot of upside for an “at the very minimum” case.

Decentralized power production feeding into a smart grid could make the promise of alternative energy a reality and inspire an army of engineers and inventors to develop small scale power generating processes. These innovations could even improve large scale power production processes.

The real attraction for libertarians in all of this is the potential to shift the balance of political power from state-owned or state-mandated monopoly power producers to smaller, even community-based, private providers.

In a story titled “Power from the people” in the May 2008 print edition of Reason Magazine, Brian Doherty asks the question “What happens when creative consumers decide to generate their own energy?” You can find the complete answer to that question here, but, in short, you get innovative energy solutions ranging from the bizarre to the brilliant.

There is nothing inherently wrong with large scale power production, of course. In fact, there are likely economies of scale at work that will secure a place for mega-projects in the power market into the foreseeable future. The problem with mega-projects, however, is that they attract, perhaps necessitate, government involvement, which attracts waste, incompetence and corruption. And the end result of a government-sponsored mega-project is often a regulated, protected and distorted market for power in which no room is made available for innovation and entrepreneurship.

(Picture: Brian Doherty)

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on June 30, 2009 | Permalink


Thats a great article and a great idea. In some places in the states you can already sell excess power back to the grid. I would be interested in adding some more windmills if I could sell back the power to the grid when I wasn't using it all.

There are already several good windmill systems available to power your home. There are still some things that will always work better on grid power, like clothes dryers, 1000 w metal Halides, and High Pressure Sodiums, lol

Even if using a windmill couldn't eliminate your hydro bill, it can certainly cut it down. Hell some people who are really power smart could end up getting a cheque, instead of a bill from the power company.

Posted by: DrGreenthumb | 2009-06-30 11:56:11 AM

De-centralizing energy will ahve the same benifits that de-centralizing most things do, more choice, more accountability, etc.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-06-30 11:17:27 PM

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