Electric shortages have become more acute; brownouts and blackouts have become common. Look deeper and it becomes clear that the nation’s power grid has not only become less reliable but also more fragile. This fact is especially troubling because it confronts the country just when Washington and several states are pushing electric cars and an increase in the use of electric appliances. In part the power problem reflects the increased use of wind and solar sources. There can be no dispute that these are less reliable than power from fossil fuels and nuclear. But this straightforward fact of life is only part of the story.

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