We’ve been selling non-electric items to the Amish since 1955. But, we didn’t advertise it much until 1973, when the first energy crisis hit. Ever since, we’ve been billing ourselves as your source for non-electric items.
For years, lots of people made fun of us. They would tease us by asking if we were too far out in the country to realize that most everyone has electricity now. We’re not hearing that much any more. There are lots of reasons to be afraid of power failures today.
For one thing, we are more dependent on electricity than ever before. We’re in the digital age now. And, the flow of digital information is entirely dependent on electricity. If the electricity stops, the information stops. And, if the information stops, our lives grind to a halt.
For another, power failures are more likely now than ever before. Here is what I think is causing the problem today:
1) Deregulation – Generally speaking, I believe in the free market. But, deregulation has led to less reliability. My personal experience has been a steady increase in power outages, most of which are caused by maintenance failures. In some cases, equipment goes bad because it wasn’t replaced on time. In others, power lines are fouled because nearby tree branches weren’t cleared.
Naturally, no one at your local power company will admit they are postponing maintenance. I learned about it by talking to service technicians “off-the-record”. I also learned that to cover for their shortcomings, independent power companies sign mutual interdependence agreements. When one power company can’t keep up, a nearby company may agree to supply power for them. That interdependence can add strength to your local electric grid. But, it also means that your home may loose electricity because of a power supply problem hundreds of miles away.
2) The “Not In My Back Yard” syndrome (NIMBY) – No one want a power plant nearby. Whenever I see those tall stacks belching fumes, I’m glad if I’m upwind. And, those nuclear plant cooling towers always remind me of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl disasters. How bad is the problem? The Department of Energy reports that over 11,000 megawatts of power generating capacity was planned for 2005. But, only 329 was actually built.
Over time, I expect power failures to become more common. Terrorist attack is always a threat. It may come in the form of a computer virus. Or, it may be a threat from low energy magnetic pulses. Such pulses, which could be caused by something as simple as a sun spot or as worrisome as a terrorist bomb, could cause a surprising amount of damage to our electric grid. Want to read the full government report on this problem? Click here: http://www.nerc.com/files/HILF.pdf
What can you do? I’ve always believed in preparing for the worst while hoping for the best. Of course, we’re here to help. Whether that means supplying your oil lamp needs or giving advice on food preservation, we’ll do what ever we can to help you get ready.