How Disaster Leads Us to Energy Change

Oct. 30, 2023
Such must be the case for folks in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, when a decade ago a train carrying crude oil jumped the track near downtown and exploded. The accident took the lives of 47 human beings and set Lac-Mégantic on a path to embrace renewables.

Every tragedy that happens on a massive scale is plunged, unwanted, into the heart of our collective consciousness for a time. And eventually, unless you’re there or directly affected, it is somewhat forgotten.

I live in the center of the United States, and terrible events such as natural disasters like tornadoes or man-made tragedies such as the Oklahoma City bombing are always hidden somewhere in my memory, available for momentary recall. They certainly changed me.

Such must be the case for folks in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, when a decade ago a train carrying crude oil jumped the track near downtown and exploded. The accident took the lives of 47 human beings and set Lac-Mégantic on a path to explore and embrace renewable energy.

Ten years later, our Kathy Hitchens writes about a $3.7 million investment to expand a renewable microgrid deployment in the rural town. The Canadian government and Hydro-Québec are both putting up funds to add to the microgrid first deployed in 2021.

Never forget — that is a mantra from many terrible events that change thinking from that point on. It could be Pearl Harbor or Oklahoma City or a superstorm. For people in Texas, following numerous close calls due to extreme weather, it drives the willingness to install more distributed energy and microgrids to offset vulnerabilities in the grid system.

The events vary but their impact to change a way of life and how we respond to external threats — both natural and man-made — is ingrained in our will to survive and provide a better way forward.

Stay up to date with the latest microgrid projects. Subscribe to the free Microgrid Knowledge Newsletter.

About the Author

Rod Walton, Managing Editor | Managing Editor

For Microgrid Knowledge editorial inquiries, please contact Managing Editor Rod Walton at [email protected].

I’ve spent the last 15 years covering the energy industry as a newspaper and trade journalist. I was an energy writer and business editor at the Tulsa World before moving to business-to-business media at PennWell Publishing, which later became Clarion Events, where I covered the electric power industry. I joined Endeavor Business Media in November 2021 to help launch EnergyTech, one of the company’s newest media brands. I joined Microgrid Knowledge in July 2023. 

I earned my Bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. My career stops include the Moore American, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Wagoner Tribune and Tulsa World, all in Oklahoma . I have been married to Laura for the past 33-plus years and we have four children and one adorable granddaughter. We want the energy transition to make their lives better in the future. 

Microgrid Knowledge and EnergyTech are focused on the mission critical and large-scale energy users and their sustainability and resiliency goals. These include the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as the military, universities, data centers and microgrids. The C&I sectors together account for close to 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

Many large-scale energy users such as Fortune 500 companies, and mission-critical users such as military bases, universities, healthcare facilities, public safety and data centers, shifting their energy priorities to reach net-zero carbon goals within the coming decades. These include plans for renewable energy power purchase agreements, but also on-site resiliency projects such as microgrids, combined heat and power, rooftop solar, energy storage, digitalization and building efficiency upgrades.

Exploring the Potential of Community Microgrids Through Three Innovative Case Studies

April 8, 2024
Community microgrids represent a burgeoning solution to meet the energy needs of localized areas and regions. These microgrids are clusters of interconnected energy resources,...

PowerSecure_Cover

Before, During & After the Storm: Quantifying Resiliency and Reliability

With 1,800 managed microgrid systems across the country, PowerSecure provides clean, reliable and resilient power to customers for everyday operations and during unanticipated...