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From Edison to Enron: The Business of Power and What It Means for the Future of Electricity

From Edison to Enron: The Business of Power and What It Means for the Future of Electricity

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The blackout of 2003 illuminated just how dependent America is on electricity. It was not just that some 50 million people in eight states and Ontario were cut off from their Televisions, microwaves, ATMs, and email. Without the electrical juice needed to keep their sockets alive, factory managers were forced to close production lines, city managers shut down water deliveries, grocery store clerks watched their frozen inventory slowly melt away. Economists estimated that the blackout cost Americans $5 billion even as energy analysts were predicting that a similar blackout could happen again. The catastrophe forced us to marvel at the unusual ability of sub-microscopic particles to move like waves inside a wire and cause bulbs to glow. It highlighted the complex requirements for managing the massive generators, transformers, transmission lines, and switch boxes needed to tap and deliver flowing electrons. And it revealed the cracks in a 100-year-old industry structure that have been building ever since Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and their contemporaries first managed to harness electricity and make it available to the masses. From Edison to Enron traces the controversial history of this $210 billion industry--the nation's largest-- showcasing the key individuals, technological innovations, corporate machinations, and political battles that have been waged over its control. Ultimately, the author argues that current policies and practices, including those favored by the Bush Administration, are blocking entrepreneurs from producing more efficient, healthy, and sustainable power supplies. Moreoever, he presents an agenda for reforms that will stimulate economic development in the United States and around the world.