Power to the people: Shedding light on the energy grid

Photo by Danny Fulgencio
Photo by Danny Fulgencio

An exploration of the force that lights, comforts, entertains and connects us

ost of us don’t think about electricity outside of two scenarios: our monthly bill is due, or our power goes out.

We’ve lived with power lines so long that they’ve become a part of the landscape. We no longer notice them running down our streets or along our highways.

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Our entire modern lives rely upon the energy grid, yet we don’t know much of anything about it even though it runs right through our neighborhood.

What is it? Where is it? What if something happens to it? Could we run out of power?

This month, while our air-conditioners are running full blast, might be a good time to find out.

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[toggle_box] [toggle_item title=”WHERE EXACTLY IS THE ENERGY GRID?” active=”true”]It sounds obscure, but it’s actually in plain sight all around us. Read more. [/toggle_item] [toggle_item title=”WHY DOES TEXAS HAVE ITS OWN GRID?” active=”false”]Texas’ secessionist inclinations do have one modern outlet: the electric grid. There are three grids in the Lower 48 states: the Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection — and Texas. Read more. [/toggle_item] [toggle_item title=”WHOEVER INVENTS THE ENERGY BATTERY WILL BE A GAZILLIONAIRE (web exclusive)” active=”false”]Whatever energy being generated at a given moment is the energy available to use. There’s no way to store energy for a rainy day, so to speak. Read more.[/toggle_item] [toggle_item title=”ROLLING BLACKOUTS HAPPEN ON PURPOSE (web exclusive)” active=”false”]Most power outages are accidents — a power line affected by a tree limb falling, a car crashing, a lightning bolt striking. But the “rolling blackouts” that Texans experienced Feb. 2, 2011, were no accident. Read more. [/toggle_item] [toggle_item title=”WHOM SHOULD I CALL WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT?” active=”false”]Oncor, most likely, which is the company that delivers our electricity. It can be confusing, though, with all the different players in Texas’ energy grid. Read more. [/toggle_item] [toggle_item title=”WHAT’S THE BENEFIT OF A SMART METER’S ‘INTELLIGENCE’?” active=”false”]The newer technology allows Oncor to monitor electricity use in real time. Read more. [/toggle_item] [toggle_item title=”HOW TO MAKE THE ELECTRIC COMPANY PAY YOU” active=”false”]Roughly six months of the year, neighborhood resident Wally Gardipe doesn’t pay an electricity bill. Instead, the electric company pays him. Read more.[/toggle_item] [toggle_item title=”Q&A: THE FACTS ABOUT RENEWABLE ENERGY” active=”false”]You may have a “green” electricity plan, but you likely still have coal, natural gas and nuclear power being pumped through your transmission lines. Read more. [/toggle_item] [toggle_item title=”LIVING OFF-THE-GRID” active=”false”]In 1997, the Homans decided to test a hypothesis on their Oak Cliff home: You can actually save energy by building “off-the-grid,” meaning a house that isn’t powered by the electric grid. Read more. [/toggle_item] [toggle_item title=”A NEIGHBOR’S SMALL CHANGES LED TO BIG SAVINGS” active=”false”]The first time Oncor hosted a “biggest energy saver” contest”, Cliffite Darla Seible was declared the winner. Read more. [/toggle_item] [toggle_item title=”A NEW KIND OF ‘FUEL’ STATION” active=”false”]Two years ago, it was difficult to find an electric car charging station in Dallas. These days, they’re all over the place. Read more. [/toggle_item] [toggle_item title=”A TREE ADVOCATE DEFENDS ONCOR’S TREE TRIMMING PRACTICES (web exclusive)” active=”false”]Bob Curry, chairman for the city’s Urban Forest Advisory Committee, considers himself a radical when it comes to tree preservation in Dallas. But when asked about Oncor’s tree pruning practices, he doesn’t get riled up. Read more. [/toggle_item]
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