I had a revelation last night about the electrical grid. I was responding to an old friend’s comment where he stated that we needed distributed generation. I could have used the example of Mao’s Great Leap Forward with the blast furnaces in everyone’s yard, but I wanted to maintain our friendship, and stuck to Riccardo’s comparative advantage argument instead.
Then it hit me. Prior to 1970, electric generators were located very close to the point of consumption (I am talking US here). This minimized the line losses. Interconnects were put in to allow for some power sharing especially in the event of a forced outage. In general, the system was stable and one outage in one location would not necessarily affect another. It was also characterized by a larger number of smaller generators, this applied to every thermal generator. Continue reading