Great post! Thanks for taking the time to reply. Yes, definitely agree about the OCD part. I think the reason why I like Anker batteries and watching the batteries on my Mac, iPhone, iPad is because ... it's all I can control really. I do watch the CA ISO website and some of my coworkers have given me access to their solar accounts so I can watch the solar power generation that they installed on their houses. I'll glance at it every few days or so - kind of fun seeing that stuff.
Agreed completely about the tiniest of impacts. Not running the AC for an hour would make up many years of cell phone usage. Like @Falhófnir said - multiply your cellphone by a billion and all of a sudden we have an impact that requires hundreds if not thousands of power plants. If 100 million people shifted charging their mobile phones to the morning instead of the evening, we would be able to run power plants across the USA at a lower level, especially in the 4-9pm range.
I too have a Honeywell smart thermostat with this apartment I moved into 2 years ago (very new). We absolutely love it. It syncs up with Socal Edison (power company) and automatically enforces the save power days during high usage (it will increase our AC temps to 86F for a few hours and credit our bill significantly ($40+ in summer)).
Nuclear power has always been something that has depressed me. Here in California we are STILL PAYING nuclear power plant de-commissioning fees. On top of that, once we shut those down, we burn so much natural gas (for our power plants) that they worry we won't have enough gas to heat our houses in the winter - that and kWh costs went through the roof, not to count pollution output of the state. Nuclear power was clean, extremely cheap, and reduced pollution significantly. I remember when they closed the San Onofre plant https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Onofre_Nuclear_Generating_Station we started having severe outages as they switched to CNG power plants that were horribly unreliable in the early days. Power costs since 2013 have skyrocketed here since then.
CA ISO is fun to watch. I get to see the combination of solar, wind, hydro, batteries, imported power from Arizona, and CNG power the state throughout the day. California has invested massive amounts of $ into solar and wind so much so that 50-60% of our power during the daylight comes from these renewable sources. It's the 4-9pm that is where the CNG plants fire up and have to provide 2-3x the power.
Which is why SCE (Socal Edison) pays people like me to use less power during those hours. I get a $40-$60 credit every month on my bill to use less power during the 4-9pm (Time of Use plan) timeframe.
Our bill is still $150-$200 in the summer, but drops to $30-$40 in the winter and our bill is half of neighbors/family in California. No, I'm not an electric nut - my mother in law has a 1500w heater in her room that she's allowed to use whenever she wants (and my wife can do whatever she wants).
Talking about this stuff is fun - a hobby of mine for sure. Thanks for taking the time to respond.
I’m not sure everyone charging their phones at a different time would have much impact on plant operations considering the overwhelming majority of power is powering other things (HVAC, streetlights, factories, data centers, public transit, and base load power plants have to run. But it does raise a the point that people overall should be conscious of how they utilize their power.
My dad has spent the majority of his career on Wall Street involved with energy. He currently runs a firm that provides financial consulting/analysis in the energy sector (largely involving power generation and storage). The Dept of Energy is one of their clients. My uncle is an electrical engineer and worked as an executive for a few companies designing power plants, but is now retired. They have some very interesting perspectives on the current situation and future.
New York is closing their Indian Point Nuclear station, which happens to provide a substantial percent of NYC’s power. Insufficient power is already an issue- it seems at least once every summer they are forced to cut power to part of the city (usually the lower class neighborhoods) to prevent rolling blackouts. They apparently also don’t have as many transmission lines into the city as they should and it’s difficult to add more. The Cuomo/De Blasio plan involves energy efficient buildings, Solar, and wind... but it’s not realistic to renovate every building in NYC, there is not enough surface area for any meaningful amount of solar panels, and wind has limited installation sites and utility. In reality, like many other places, natural gas plants in the end will have to make up the deficit. Germany of course is the prime example of this phenomenon- their carbon emissions skyrocketed after starting down all their nuclear plants after Fukushima.
It seems so wasteful to me to shut down functional nuclear plants only to replace them with fossil fuels. That said, natural gas is the cleanest. If we wanted, we could cut our carbon emissions tremendously by using nuclear. It’s too bad the unfortunate disasters of Chernobyl and Fukushima occurred, resulting in the widespread public distaste. But it’s important to remember both these facilities had know design problems and stupid decisions lead to their respective catastrophes. Even despite the poor design that lead to Fukushima’s backup generators failing, the disaster could have been prevented. There was an option to cool the plant with ocean water and prevent a meltdown but permanently ruin the reactor or risk a nuclear disaster by taking the time to get their cooling system back on line, which should have been recognized as infeasible. Unfortunately, the parties involved determined trying to save the reactor was the better idea... and ironically they lost it and so much more in the end.
There clearly is a need for rigorous oversight of these facilities and their operations. It seems both the government and an independent body should do this. But there are also many new technologies on the drawing board- ie ones designed to mitigate any risk of meltdown, others designed to produce less, less toxic waste. It’s too bad public perception limits these options from being explored. People seem to forget that there are many hundreds of nuclear reactors (Both power and experimental/research/scientific) operating around the world without incident.
America has increasing energy demands. Renewable energy certainly has a big part to play in our future grid, but currently they are insufficient in development to come anywhere close to meeting our demands. There is so much political pressure to abandon nuclear and fossil fuels, leaving no other options. This only makes power more expensive for us consumers and increases the risk of future supply issues.