If I’m going to report on the very rich Koch Bros conspiracy to end American democracy, I should also report on the very rich men who are, in particular ways, fighting the conspiracy.
So here’s Richard Branson. He’s a Brit, of course, but I don’t hold that against him since his opinion piece in today’s New York Times informs us about an international solution to the sort of power grid wipe-outs all we humane people are agonizing over.
Branson told me things I didn’t know and, given my tendency to attribute a number of our current afflictions to the Kochs…attributable to the Kochs. To wit:
Rebuilding the electric grid in Puerto Rico will take months. But blackouts requiring weeks or months to fix are not caused by hurricanes alone. Many of the affected areas are powered by obsolete grids using fossil fuels.
Rhetorical question: And who makes their fortune from fossil fuels?
Branson himself rode out the hurricane in the basement of his island home. He didn’t have to be there; he’s rich; I’m sure he has homes elsewhere. But he was there and when he came out of the cellar
…the house and everything surrounding it was destroyed — except for the solar power array, which laid flat on ground and remained materially intact. Solar power systems survived Irma and kept working in Florida and Haiti. While Hurricane Harvey cut some Texas power lines, no wind farms were destroyed.
So that’s terrific, right? Except–and this is so disturbing I’m bolding it…
But that does not mean people with their own solar panels or other renewable energy systems managed to keep on their electricity. Though most of those systems were operable immediately after and often even during the storm, they couldn’t produce a watt of power. Outdated utility rules disabled them, not high winds…[during superstorm Sandy] utility rules required that solar systems tied to the grid be shut down to guard against voltage surges that could endanger repairmen fixing the power lines.
But these rules are outdated because…
…modern power electronics have resolved the utilities’ legitimate safety concerns.
Inverters that can separate solar systems from the main grid can be installed, automatically or manually, and allow the solar systems to continue operating even though the grid is down.
So what’s the problem?
Unfortunately, nearly all utilities forbid this. In fact, Florida Power and Light lobbied the Legislature hard this year to restrict their customers from access to home-based solar systems when the grid goes down.
Yeah. And who do we think are supplying the bucks for those lobbyists?
Branson’s co-writer is Amory B. Lovins, a co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, where he is chief scientist.
Anyway, since I consider it a moral responsibility to assault the Kochs, et al., for their assault on us, I must also consider it a moral responsibility to tell everyone about the very rich men who support the odd notion that democracy’s mandate is the security, welfare and advancement of its civilization, its people, its voters.
Today, Richard Branson.