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Our over-the-air radio signal in the Bismarck area is down as a tower crew repairs damage from an ice storm last April. The outage should last a few days.

Electrical grid needs storage strategy, says solar company president

D. Webster

The president of a Fargo-based solar installation company says the spotlight on Texas’s electrical grid last week also shines light on systemic problems with energy infrastructure nationwide.

Millions of Texas residents lost power for days when winter storms brought snow, ice and unprecedented frigid temperatures to the state. The unregulated grid was also not winterized or even covered from the elements, leaving it vulnerable to the hazardous conditions.

John Bagu is President of Community Electrification, a solar panel installation company in Fargo. He says the disaster in Texas was a failure in all aspects of energy issues – production, transmission, and distribution. He says this should be a wakeup call to the rest of the country when it comes to its aging energy infrastructure.

Bagu says focus on creating energy storage, and not just transmission, should have happened decades ago. But the way the grid is set up now, electricity is generated and used immediately.

"I really wish utility companies had gotten into energy storage decades ago, and made it part of their system to increase reliability that they so much talk about. But as it's been shown recently - things aren't as reliable. I mean look at the pandemic, look at the political situation, and now look at our energy situation. I don't see a lot of stability this last year; half a million Americans died. Wow."

Bagu also says just because the energy is cheap doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better. He says Texas would have been in a much better situation had they invested time and money into preparing its grid for winter.

He says his personal solar panels have powered his home and cars through nine North Dakota winters, oftentimes with electricity to spare.

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