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"von meyer" Discussed on Bloomberg Radio New York
"Down four tenths of 1%, key takeaway again, off session lows. I'm Charlie palette that David Weston is a Bloomberg business flash. Thank you so much, Charlie pellet. Well, President Biden is in Southwest Florida even as we speak, along with the First Lady, a touring personally, the devastation that was left behind by hurricane Ian, and as people try to pick up the pieces and put their act together lives. One of the big challenges, of course, is power and the damage done to the power grid with literally tens of thousands of line workers down there from all around the country trying to help out. So to get a sense of exactly what the damages that's done. And as important, what could be done to avoid as much damage the next time. We welcome now Alexandra von Meyer of the University of California at Berkeley. Doctor von Meyer is director of the California institute for energy and environment. So welcome, it's great to have you back with us. What could be done to protect us? I've heard some of the linemen down there saying that they had done some things already like put lines underground. Good morning, I yes, good to be with you. I think that undergrounding certainly has helped Florida power a lot, but it doesn't solve all the problems, right? There are a lot of vulnerabilities that still continue. There's equipment that's still going to be above ground, some of the substations. And also on the generation side, so a really difficult situation. I mean, my heart just goes out to the folks in Florida waiting for their power to be restored and also the folks working around the clock to make that happen. It's of course disturbing, but not surprising, right? In the face of what we understand about climate change. So if this is the new normal or if this is going to get worse, certainly like the wildfire situation in California, these things just really raise the bar and how we have to think about investing in the electrical infrastructure and how to prepare for the next event. As you point out, we have had bad storms for some time, but by all indications climate change are making it worse, at least for some parts of the country and for that matter of the world. There's a lot of talk about adaptation. What does adaptation look like when it comes to the power grid? In my view, the adaptation is more than just hardening the grid. I mean, part of it, of course, is that you try to reinforce the infrastructure so that it's less vulnerable. But there are obvious limits in how far you can go with that. And at some point, you have to just plan around the expectation that some components are going to go offline. And in my view, we really need to plan from the bottom up in looking at how can we make sure that people are going to be okay, not if, but when the lights go off. And that starts with, I think, in individual household, looking at what are the really essential needs, you know, I personally have a battery just for my computer and Internet. But for different people that varies and for different businesses that varies how much they depend on specific things being powered up, there's medical customers that need electricity. So providing the resilience to be able to survive or be halfway comfortable when the grid is out for hours or days on end. I think that is really a necessity. And one of the lessons learned, I think, from Florida, is that solar microgrids really are sort of the ultimate in giving you survivability. Babcock ranch, for example, outside of Fort Myers that has had great success with their solar and that is also not dependent on fuel delivery, for example. You can have backup diesel generation, but then you still need the fuel. So I think the resilience is sort of a key planning issue. So Sasha, you put it exactly in the place I was going to go, which is decentralization of the distribution of power in essential aspects. My simpler way after hurricane sandy, we invested in a natural gas powered generator that's out behind our House. And we've only used a couple of times since then, but it's nice when it kicks in. Do we have to start decentralizing some of the power distribution? Yeah, I see the centralized sort of planning and supporting the periphery of the grid as really being complementary to building out the backbones. You know, there is long distance transmission, for example, that I think we want to invest in in terms of bringing distant renewables to load centers and so forth. But the local infrastructure is a really important piece of this. And I see it as being complementary. I think that, you know, we can do a lot more today with the advanced technology that's available storage is so much less expensive now. And all the power electronic conversion and the ways of controlling gadgets are so much more accessible. We will have to think much harder about controlling, for example, EV chargers as we electrify the grid. And there's enormous room for great advancement in development and good business in that. I think the question that really lives open though is the question of equity and how we make sure that the most vulnerable people get the same quality of service and reliability because our electric grid has this whole history of a lot of cross subsidization. It was really a century old social compact that we all have the same access to the same power. And when we talk about supplying people with microgrids locally, then the question is, you know, who's got how good a microgrid? So here in conclusion, if I could, we've talked a lot about what could be done. Maybe what should be done. Is it being done? We're in the process of investing a lot of money in infrastructure at the federal level right now Are we taking the things into account that you've just been talking about? I think it's a little too soon to tell how we're going to be spending some of the money that's recently been identified for infrastructure. I think the Biden administration is heading in the right direction. Philosophically, there's always more to do. And you know, I think that there's, I think, a bit of thicker shock sometimes when we look at what electrical infrastructure actually costs and to do it right, we're talking not tens but hundreds of billions. And I think it's fair to think about the comparison though with roads. What we spend on road infrastructure and the fact of the matter is it's a big tab. We've painted ourselves into a