Blackout: How the Electric Industry Exploits America

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9781560258124: Blackout: How the Electric Industry Exploits America
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In the midst of the sweltering summer of August 2003, the lights went out across northeast America. From Canada to Philadelphia, houses were plunged into darkness, elevators stalled, subway cars ceased to run, air-conditioners shuddered into silence, and the candle-lit 1890s streets of Brooklyn became a reality once more. Astonishingly, no company or individual has ever been held accountable for what cost affected regions millions of dollars in lost revenue and compensation. The electricity companies involved introduced no new rules, nor a single firing — nothing. As Gordon Weil explores in Blackout, this was the culmination of a long history of exploitation by the electric industry of its customers, coupled with the seeming indifference and incompetence of the regulators who were supposed to protect them. Weil describes the founding of the original electric monopoly by Edison and his secretary, Insull, and reveals how and why Roosevelt's efforts to control the company's excesses failed. Weil continues with the willful failure of the industry to integrate itself into the competitive marketplace; a failure in which the customer remains the biggest loser. Weil concludes that unless the government and the regulators undertake radical legislation, "lights out" remains a distinct possibility for us all.

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About the Author:

Gordon Weil is the chairman of the Weil Consulting Group, a team of electic transmission and power supply expeters that works for customers. He was the chairman of the negotiations to create the New England single transmission system. He was also the Maine Energy Director and chair of the national organization of state energy agencies.

From Publishers Weekly:

With this ambitious book, Weil sets two complementary tasks for himself: to reveal many of the problems that have been hidden from the public about the electric industry, and to suggest redress. His sprawling, sometimes convoluted history begins with Thomas Edison's invention of the lightbulb and former Edison employee Samuel Insull's definitive approach to the business of electricity, which he refined while running the Commonwealth Electric Company in Chicago. Weil then covers the following century, leading up to the 2003 blackout and its aftermath, with a brevity that's alternately refreshing and frustrating. His distillation of the cause of that blackout as "a series of failures and inefficiencies" is typical for its clarity, but when the author takes on more complicated topics, like the California energy crisis, his writing loses some of its accessibility. Small glossaries and inserts provide welcome background for the lay reader, but Weil's difficult subject and expertise in the field—he has worked as a power broker and energy consultant and advised the U.S. Department of Energy—are sometimes at odds with this generalized approach. However, his final recommendations, which are largely aimed at restoring knowledge and power to the consumer, are authoritative and persuasive. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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