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The Greatest Feat

It’s awesome when folks band together to affect a positive outcome. For you non-Californians, let me relate the events which recently led up to a very positive outcome for our state.

In early September the weather report warned that temperatures throughout the state were to rise to outrageously high numbers (here in Glen Ellen our temperature got to near 110 degrees). That was followed by an emergency cell-phone alert, asking Californians to cut their electrical use between 6 and 9 pm that night.

Yes, I was confused as to why we were to cut the usage in the evening – when the temperatures would start to fall. La duh. It turns out that California has enough solar panels feeding electricity into the grid to keep things going during the day. But come evening all that ends – yet homes in the early evening still have their AC cranked up, and folks just home from work and school are using lots of appliances and lights and TVs and computers.

Solar panels in California’s Mojave Desert. Andy drove by this on his way from Chino, CA, to Colorado and says it’s mind-boggling in its size.

According to an article in September’s The Atlantic about this episode and California’s electrical grid, “within 45 minutes of that alert going out, the state had cut more than 2,000 megawatts of electricity, roughly as much energy as it normally takes to power more than 1.5 million homes. And the grid was fine.”

This is what a large-scale solar battery storage plant looks like (this one is in Oxnard, CA). Those batteries helped keep the grid going (They’re also problematic. An enormous one at Moss Landing in CA has had a multitude of problems with fires.)

The Atlantic article continues with an analysis of what needs to come next in regards to the grid, since “electricity is the lifeblood of technical society.” FYI: Two decades ago, the National Academy of Engineering ranked electrification (“stringing up the world’s power grid”) as the greatest engineering feat of the 20th century, outranking the automobile (No. 2), the airplane (No. 3), radio and TV (No. 6), computers (No. 8), and the telephone (No. 9). Recently a Stanford researcher, Michael Wara, commented that electric cars may be just what’s needed for the future of our “old and rickety” grid because their use will force growth in the electrical industry, which has been stagnant.

8 Tesla and 2 “universal” charging stations for electric cars have been installed at Sonoma’s Community Center on East Napa St.

There’s a caveat to electric cars helping us and the grid out: If electric cars are all being charged in the early evening, the grid will be even more challenged. So charging has to take place during the day or after 11 pm.

In thinking about electricity, and the grid going down (especially if it’s dinner time) – as may happen before all this needed growth occurs, we could go back to our blog about the apocalypse and remind you of the kinds of food to have on hand. Clearly, you’ll want peanut butter and cans of beans. But what about meat or fish, if you’re not vegetarian? How about cans of tuna and…yes…SPAM?!

We’re going to bank on the good people of California tempering their electrical usage when the next grid-preservation warning goes out. But just in case the good people of California have a bad day, we’ve got recipes for Spam hot and Spam cold – and for tuna hot and tuna cold.

Our Cardigan Corgi, Wynn, isn’t sure she wants Spam, especially while it’s still in the can

And speaking of Spam: please note the “convenient” pull tab on the Spam lid in the photo above. Andy has lots and lots to say about such conveniences in today’s Andy’s Corner. Suffice it to say, he’s not pleased.

So here’s to the grid and your electric stove functioning and to enjoying HOT, fried Spam (I should add that California – as of January 2023 – is requiring new homes to be “electric ready.” A cook’s concern – environmental issues aside – is that the use of gas ranges in new construction is being discouraged and in some areas, not even allowed).

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