Piper Foster Wilder
E L E C T R I C I T Y
by Chase Whitney
The fundamental ingredient of life and economy has been made so convenient, so ubiquitous (at least in the developed world) and so economical that we rarely give it a minute's thought. It's the ultimate commodity. It's enduring availability is rarely questioned outside of wonkish think tanks and it's impacts are externalized to the concern of too few.
There are so many more exciting things in the world than power plants and transmission lines. Setting coal on fire, cascading neutrons, steam turbines - these concepts and things reside on the periphery of our everyday. Their operation, like that of our hearts and bladders, only rise to the fore after SOMETHING has happened. A tingling left arm or explosion quickly brings them forward with a guilty recognition that maybe we should have appreciated their ceaseless work a bit more.
All around the world, there is a tribe of people who trade and facilitate power. I was briefly a member of this tribe. I was able to get my hands on power. I bought it; I sold it. I was bedeviled by it. The vagaries of renewables made me admire the certainty of fossils. This tribe - they work around the clock - every hour of every day - to make power the commodity we can forget.