“Being unable to predict what is happening around us is a definition of uncertainty.” Sounds obvious, but it is profound especially these days.

A neuroscience expert said that about the pandemic and mental health in a Forbes column recently. He said in the midst of uncertainty we look to people who provide a sense of reason, who can provide context and confidence, to help ourselves navigate tough times.

Image: Dominion Energy media gallery

“A calm mind can deal with the distraction of pain far easier than a frenetic one,” he said. That is who we appreciate in tough times.

This resonated with us as many utilities honor their line workers this time of year. Line workers are the epitome of confident, well-informed, and caring members of the community. Leaders in the truest sense of the word.

Image: Duke Energy media gallery

Think about it. After a storm when you see a utility truck pass through the neighborhood, you feel pretty darn better. There is a sense that control is within reach.

Line workers leave their families to restore power when the rest of us stay home, hunkered down. Line workers see uncertainty on a regular basis as they face disruptions in the grid or are making upgrades on the grid. In effect, these projects are unique in every situation. No two projects are exactly alike. That takes careful analysis. A calm mind.

ECC thanks utility line workers for their leadership during these difficult times.

Since we are talking about line workers and power restoration, a story in Bloomberg this week says, Get Ready for More, Longer Blackouts. (Left) Good story.

The report says the combination of big storms and the pandemic could make restoration of power a tougher challenge all around the nation.

For instance, “The storm that battered the U.S. this week unleashed tornadoes in the Carolinas, Mississippi and elsewhere. By Tuesday afternoon, there were still 250,000 homes and businesses without power from Texas to Maine,” says the story. Noting previous storms, “On March 28 alone, tornadoes reportedly touched down in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Arkansas, while hail and wind damaged trees, power lines, and buildings in 13 states.”

Get ready for what is expected to be an above average hurricane season, too. (ECC wrote about that recently.)

The Bloomberg report notes the close proximity of line workers when they work. That could be a hazard, but close teamwork is critical to address power issues. Storms and virus – taken together they can create challenges, outages and fewer workers because of illness.

Industry spokespeople say that they will be there, ready to address power issues. It may take some new thinking and new kinds of teamwork, but they will be there.

Our feature image this week is from a friend along the Wando River near the South Carolina coast. We think that image is perfect since he is near the ocean and the ocean is where there is a lot of energy research. It is not oil, gas or wind research, though.

One version of an ocean current energy system

Ocean current energy captures movement under the surface of the water. Smithsonian magazine ran a report about that. It is happening in Nova Scotia. “Crowded into a shipping container perched on the Plat’s center hull, we gaze at video monitors that show the underwater rotors … [elsewhere] three steel cabinets reveal inverters, transformers and other electronics gear that, using a computer program the team calls its ‘secret sauce,’ processes the water-generated electrical current to match the 60-hertz heartbeat of the local power grid.” Neat story.

Closer to home the Coastal Studies Institute, in Wanchese, NC, is looking for the correct placement of marine hydrokinetic devices to capture the energy of the Gulf Stream. “The mooring of any devices would need to be along the continental shelf slope, yet in an area that is within the meandering Gulf Stream flow the majority of the time. CSI scientists are currently targeting an area off Cape Hatteras in 250-300m (820-980 ft) of water.”

Check the website for CSI. You’ll be proud of your fellow Carolinians.