Category Archives: microgrids

Pipelines & microgrids

Gas & Hazardous Liquids Pipelines

Pipelines are everywhere. There’s probably one near you right now  delivering hundreds of cubic feet of a fossil fuel allowing you to live comfortably.  Whether you’re in the countryside or downtown of a big city – pipelines are everywhere.  There is a solution to get rid of pipelines – and it’s right there waiting in your hood… just like your farmers market!

San Bruno 2010 Gas Pipe explosion

The people of San Bruno, CA.  discovered their pipeline in a violent way on September 9, 2010  when a PG&E gasline exploded underneath their homes killing eight people and destroying 38 homes. That pipeline was 30” in diameter going right underneath a major suburban area. It was part of PG&E’s 1800 miles of major gas transmission feedlines.

1st hand PG&E experience
When I was doing intense six month training period at PG&E in 1977, a gas department VP  explained how their piplines were used as storage tanks and the pressures could vary 10x fold depending on various demand and supply needs within the system. At that time I thought it was an ingenious, multiple use for a simple underground pipeline system, now we know different.

I’ve come to discover since that the utilities also have massive ‘natural’ underground storage caverns… but that’s a whole different topic.

Other pipelines    Even low pressure pipelines like the infamous DAPL and Excel oil pipelines present unseen hazards to our comfortable living environment. Any and all pipelines present hazards to modern living – even the countless little gas/electric/water/sewer pipes in and under your home.  A low pressure water pipe can create an immense sink hole.  In last year’s DAPL demonstrations, the chant ‘Water is Life’   

DAPL demonstrations

resonated with me.   Even tho oil is now flowing (for now) through the DAPL line, we need to remain vigil and insist that no pipeline be placed within 150 feet of a body of water.  Is that so difficult?  Is that so outrageous?  We don’t allow oil refineries next to schools and hospitals, why should we tolerate pipelines close to our homes any less?  It’s a simple resolution to start on.

We need to get around in our cars.  Pipelines are safer than railcar delivery. Pipelines are here to stay.  Let’s just stop polluting countless underground aquifers and geological formations for centuries to come with pipelines that will satisfy our appetite for gasoline for only 30 years??  We have rules that we  shouldn’t piss within 150 feet of a river or lake when you’re out hiking – so why not the same for pipelines?  It’s just common sense!

The case for microgrids        

Power island

 

The ultimate solution is to wean ourselves away from all this massive, centralized infrastructure and just like our food supply (local farmers markets and not big Ag), take control of our own community’s energy needs.  Several cities are already well on their way in taking control of their energy needs.

 One example:   

MAKE  BROOKLYN  LOCAL  “In New York, the Brooklyn microgrid is conceived to work with the conventional grid, which is in the midst of a reboot under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s directives to make it more flexible, resilient and economically efficient while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. That effort, known as Reforming the Energy Vision, or REV, includes encouraging the development of microgrids and more active community participation.” ….    -New York Times

REAL microgrids

I’d take it one step further like some European cities are doing: cut the cord to the main grid completely and embrace your neighbors’ microgrids for backup and resilience.  With all the renewable choices out there, a symbiotic relationship between microhydro, geothermal, wind, solar, and biogas/mass can easily be tailored to each community’s needs.

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