SOCIAL SCIENCES

Superpower: One Man’s Quest To Transform American Energy

S. & S. Jun. 2019. 336p. bibliog. ISBN 9781501163586. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781501163609. BUS
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Gold (energy reporter, Wall Street Journal; The Boom) profiles entrepreneur Michael Skelly throughout a long career in the energy sector, particularly wind-generated power. The central quest of the book is Skelly’s vision to generate cheap green electricity on land in the Oklahoma panhandle with ideal conditions for wind turbines and solar cells to transport it along direct current power lines to grids east of the Mississippi River. Along the way, the author lays out a bit of the history of the development of the U.S. electric system, from highly localized power generation to state or regional grids that combine electrical power from multiple sources (fossil fuels, nuclear, solar, wind, and water). Both Skelly and Gold lament that the networking largely stopped at that level, and no national infrastructure effectively connects this conglomeration of regional providers. Surprisingly, Gold manages to keep the drama and tension high while relating what is essentially a tale of corporate deal-making, state politics, and industrial regulation.
VERDICT Green energy enthusiasts will appreciate this account of how hard work, capitalist wiles, and negotiation are needed to turn a good idea into a reality.

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