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Our incredible and increasing need for reliable energy supply

It only takes a day or two before the romantic fun and creative survival of a power outage begins to take its toll. And after two days of not being to warm back up, clean up or clean off, or connect with others or do any real work, the boredom, loneliness and and cold turns into fears of survival and depression, reminding just how incredibly important electrical service is today. With all of our connected devices, use of the internet for so many of our daily activities, and the comfort it provides us. And yet, I was lucky unlike a neighbor who could not flush their toilets and use any water for their waste water needed power to pump it up to the sewer connection. At least I could use my toilets and wash my hands and brush my teeth.

Once power was restored after three days of temps in single digits at night and continued cloudy snow fall, I realized just how stuck I was. The garage door doesn’t open with the push of a button; the snow blower batteries cannot be recharged to keep the driveway clear in case needed; my mobile devices and computer have to shutdown and even getting into bed with thick down comforter and extra wool blankets is cold when wearing layers of thermals and even a hat and gloves to bed. What are we to do without electricity or fuel to heat our homes, water and bodies?

As I run out of clean silverware, plates and bowls, I have to get creative on their reuse without hot water to clean them. And yet all of this sounds really petty compared to those in Ukraine living in colder conditions with extended power outages and the fear of imminent death from a brutal missile attack. Or from the much deeper cold and longer power outages of those in Buffalo a mere week earlier. It makes me realize that power, heat, hot water, internet service, ability to keep our mobile devices charged, are so essential to quality life, and even, just staying alive. And yet our power grids, at least here in the US, are just not built nor prepared for the increasing more extreme weather events that are ever-more prevalent everywhere. And as we add more electrical devices, more rechargeable tools and toys, vehicles, and the need for heat or cooling, I know that our power grids are already strained and will not be able to keep up with our increasing power demands of homes and businesses. So our we will see many more power grid failures and extended ones such as the one I just went thru even though living one the same power grid circuit thru 20 years of even more extreme weather events.

So this brings me to a few realizations. We need to design and build our power grids from utility to home so that they are much more resilient and can adapt and handle every increasing electrical loads and extreme weather. And maintain the comfort and necessary living support of our current and future devices, tools and services. In order to do this, our utility operators, architects, engineers, operator and suppliers of all buildings, services, utilities, and products will need to be designed and built very differently with a much greater awareness, adaptability and survivability. Without that, we will see “un-developing” utility grids, and greater harm and hardships for years to come. Those with the resources can self-provide power generation and storage, which will be a minority for years to come. But we will all suffer as more of our friends, family, neighbors and fellow citizens and ourselves have greater hardships and death that we will all have a responsibility to protect. If not, our developed, safe and comfortable society will degrade, and that will affect us all emotionally and economically. I hope our utility services, builders, city managers and each of us will drive to solve for these challenges before we literally crumble as a great society as others have before us due to a lack of infrastructure and planning for the future and all members of that society. We have much work to do.
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KC Mares

Focused on energy efficiency in data centers for over 20 years, with leadership over design, building and operating the lowest cost and most efficient data centers in over 20 countries. KC has led and developed solutions in data center site selection, development, design, operations and energy reductions for many data center owners, including most of the hyperscalers, tech companies and the largest providers, enterprises and government data center operators. He has led the design of over $10 billion of data centers, all with industry leading energy and cost efficiencies. He also recently led factory engineering and battery cell production engineering projects for Tesla. KC recently led CPower Energy Management's solutions for large data centers to enhance and leverage energy solutions to data centers by enabling further emissions and energy use and cost while supporting our power grids to stay on during peak demand periods. KC developed the 2,300 acre Reno Technology Park, now one of the largest data center campuses known with hundreds of MWs of on-site solar generation, and also the ECHO fiber cable, the first to directly connect the US and Singapore as well as several other countries. For several years, KC chaired the Silicon Valley Leadership Group's Data Center Energy Efficiency demonstration program and summits, and before that also chaired the SVLG Energy Committee before, during and out of the California energy crisis, in which KC participated in weekly meetings with the Governor and his staff, CEC and CPUC commissioners and others creating long-term clean energy solutions for California. KC led Yahoo!’s worldwide data center strategy, development and construction, while it was the largest Internet property, leading the construction of over $1 billion of energy efficient data centers and data center site selections and procurements around the globe for at the time the largest Internet property. His work has earned numerous awards, including twice EnergyStar Partner of the Year and Congressional recognitions, and he continues to work on ways to grow and learn, and build great teams and projects that affect positive progress to increase energy efficiency and options while reducing costs and emissions.


  1. Gregory R Matthews on January 11, 2023 at 3:24 am

    KC, totally agree with everything you state in your article. But one not to believe our governments will ever get their act together; in fact I count on them to make it worse. Whenever, however possible rely on yourself, make yourself self reliant and address these issues for yourself. No one is coming to save you.

    Those of us who are technical in our work, and can work remotely. DO IT. No excuses now with Starlink Move to the country, places with low taxes, even better no taxes. Run your homes on solar with battery storage for evening hours, drill your own water wells.

    I’ve gone off the grid, never been happier and I have all the things those in cities and towns have, plus tons more. Once you make sure your own house is in order; then we can try and get our cities and towns to see the insanity of how they do things. But I would not bank on it.

    Now I spend time preaching to others the benefits; but very few listen.

    • KC Mares on January 11, 2023 at 6:08 am

      I think our governing bodies should put a higher requirement on reliability of electricity supplies since it is so vital in how much we all rely on that service today, and without it we have no internet or phone service, which is critical for emergency services. I wore three down jackets, a wool hat and gloves in my own house for three days because it got so cold and was barely able to stay warm, and burned a lot of candles for light–the most reliable device during an extended outage. All were essential as battery powered lights, rechargeable lights and devices including mobile devices all ran out of power without ability to recharge, and without electricity, no internet service works including Starlink, which I have, and do live in a low cost area with very reliable electricity service. I also have several UPS units to power all of my electronics, including battery packs, but all only last for a day or two, so by day three without power there is no more stored electricity. And without sunshine due to weather, I could not generate enough electricity to recharge devices or power internet systems. With more extreme weather, cyber attacks, and human sabotage will cause all regions to loose eleciticty more often than before, so we will all have to adjust to having no internet, no lights, no heat or air conditioning, etc at times, with or without back up systems or generators. A friend offered to bring me his generator to power my heater so I could at least keep from living in freezing temp, but even that was out of fuel and fuel stations couldn’t pump fuel without electricity, so I do believe that about the only solutions are extended on-site energy storage and generation from renewable resources to make for more productive survival during extended outages. It’s a lot to add to every building or the grid on the whole, but will need to be done over time to ensure the safety of persons and economic continuance during these extended and likely more regular outages.



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