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Decentralized Power Provides Energy Security
Conventional wisdom provides that large, centralized power plants enjoy economies of scale and are “ideal” for providing baseload electric capacity. The earthquake in Japan demonstrated yet again that large operations can create large problems when they fail. Centralized power plants create a risk similar to that seen in the recent economic meltdown—-the threat of being “too big to fail.” We need to be reminded that local power options, as in distributed energy, can mean not only less demand on the grid, reduced line losses, and “at hand” and uninterruptable fuel supplies (wind, solar, biomass, geo-thermal), but the peace of mind that the loss of one such generation source would not be catastrophic. This adds up to energy security (think Carrington Event), which also means economic security. Michigan’s energy policy needs to encourage distributed energy applications at industrial sites (especially on-peak and 24/7 generation sources) throughout the state. Obstacles to such energy efficiency and energy security, such as unreasonable interconnection requirements and overreaching/burdensome standby tariffs, need to be dismantled.