Video series focuses on Power, Politics and the Grid

February 16, 2024, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe


Chemist, author, nuclear energy advocate, and ANS member Meredith Angwin recently reached out to David Blackmon about Juice: Power, Politics and the Grid, a series of five short videos that she calls “a splendid resource for people who want to know about the electric grid.” Blackmon, a writer and 40-year veteran of the energy industry who is a fan of both Angwin and the video shorts, reposted her review on his Substack, “Energy Transition Absurdities.”

The videos, produced by Austin, Texas–based filmmakers Robert Bryce and Tyson Culver, feature interviews with Angwin and others as they “expose the perils facing our electric grid [and show] how we can improve the reliability of our most important energy network and address climate change by embracing nuclear energy.”

Texas blackout: In her review of Juice, Angwin points out that the videos offer “evidence that ‘reality is poking through the narrative’ of ‘all we need is renewables.’” The series begins with an examination of the February 2021 Texas blackout “Issues that led to the Texas blackout,” she writes, “are not unique to Texas.”

Undermined by Enron: The second video covers the ongoing negative effects of Enron Corporation’s policies on the U.S. electric grid and argues that the treatment of electricity as a commodity rather than a service continues to cause soaring prices and declining reliability. This perspective “is particularly punishing in California, where electricity prices are increasing three times faster than in the rest of the U.S.,” according to the video. Angwin notes that “‘renewables-are-all-that-matters’ California has changed its tune and now hopes to keep its nuclear plant operating.”

Green dreams: One of Angwin’s favorite episodes is the third video, which she writes is “about how the Osage Nation has successfully battled a wind farm that did not respect the tribe’s property rights.” According to filmmakers Bryce and Culver, the tribe’s legal fight against Enel Corporation is “only one example of the fights against alternative energy projects that are happening all across rural America.”

Nuclear renaissance: The fourth episode argues that the “global nuclear comeback is real, even in Japan, where the accident at Fukushima Daiichi still looms large in the public’s consciousness.” In the video, the filmmakers speak with Chris Keefer, a Toronto-based emergency room doctor who “ignited a groundswell of support to expand and refurbish Ontario’s fleet of nuclear reactors.”

Industrial cathedrals: Angwin’s other favorite short is the fifth and final video, in which Bryce and Culver argue that part of getting serious about climate change and energy security means making the grid “weather resilient, not weather dependent.” And to do so requires long-term planning and embracing nuclear power plants as “the crowning achievements of our society.” They continue, “It will require us to see them, as [energy writer and historian] Emmet Penney does, as ‘industrial cathedrals.’”

Praise from Angwin: Angwin praises the series for its effectiveness in tackling the “complex beast” that is the electric grid and the controversies that “sometimes seem to be beyond comprehension.” Blackmon seconds this, calling Juice “a terrific, powerful series of 5 videos that everyone should watch.”

Note: Angwin's book, "Shorting the Grid: The Hidden Fragility of Our Electric Grid," is available from book sellers.

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