11:00 AM EDT, July 4, 2012
As Dan Rodricks points out in his column ("Getting used to weather's new normal," July 3), the current power outage is only the latest in a series resulting from severe weather events in the last few years. Whether man-made or not, the global climate is changing, and we are likely to experience more frequent events in the coming years at a time when we are ever more dependent on electric power.
What is surprising is that our response practices have not changed. The local crews are insufficient for the job, and others are called in not only from neighboring states but from all over the North American continent — from Texas to Quebec — at no little expense and increased delay. It seems to me that what is called for is to expand local capacity by the creation of an appropriately trained and equipped Power Guard, analogous to the National Guard.
After completion of training, the guard members would be on call to respond massively after power outages, reporting to appropriate centers to collect equipment and to meet their team leaders. In addition to the benefit to society, the guard members would be compensated for their training time and emergency work. At a time of high unemployment, the training (which companies in all sectors should be doing but are not) might help many to find a job or a better one.
How should it be paid for? The first place is to take it out of executive pay. But what about the tired claims that to attract and retain talented managers high salaries must be offered? I can only ask where is the talent? Where is the competence?
Paul Converse, Baltimore
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