Refashioning our electric grid to move generation closer to load creates a host of benefits. (Two-hundred and seven, according to Amory Lovins.) Among them is an increase in grid reliability, since generation closer to load necessarily reduces the need for transmission to connect remote generators to that load. Carnegie-Mellon has estimated that we could free up something like 15 percent of our total grid capacity if we moved to a locally generated system.

But you wouldn’t know that from the way some utilities calculate reliability statistics. The Columbus Dispatch reports that in spite of a wave of recent outages due to winds knocking out power lines, reliability statistics still look surprisingly good. Why?

The reliability statistics themselves are controversial. Major storms, such as the September wind storm that knocked out power to 700,000 AEP customers, are not included on the list. Utility officials contend, and regulators agree, that major storms would cause breakdowns in even the best systems, and are therefore not helpful in measuring overall reliability.

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That means the September wind storm, the January ice storm, and this week’s high winds will not be considered when the PUCO puts together reliability statistics for AEP.

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“For analysis purposes, you’ve got to remove the anomalies,” said Selwyn Dias, vice president for regulatory and finance at AEP Ohio.

So rather than build a more reliable grid, we will simply assume the grid we have — and its innate exposure to weather-related outages — is immutable.

Tomorrow: I’m favored to be the top pick in the upcoming NBA draft, once you remove the anomalies of my height, 30-percent shooting percentage, and lack of credible crossover move.

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