Appropriate comeuppance

In science class, starting in middle school, teachers explained the concept of Newton’s third law of motion. In summary, the way the law reads is that when an object exerts force in one direction on another object, the expected result is a force equal in force in the opposite direction.

In other words, for every action, there is a reaction.

It’s something that we teach our children with the concept of discipline, using discipline to teach where boundaries for actions truly are - exceed the limits of that boundary, and you will have to endure a punishment that has been laid out.

It’s something we expect those same children to know as they age and begin interacting with the world, realizing that there are laws that, once broken, have a set discipline that will be required to be paid.

You speed, you pay a fine. You steal, you pay a fine and replace the cost of the stolen item.

These are concepts that, in theory, we understand.

However, when those same theories are applied in other areas of life, it seems that the idea of comeuppance really hasn’t crossed the mind as being applicable in many life circumstances.

To borrow from Oxford, the definition of comeuppance is “a punishment or fate that someone deserves.”

Due to the word “punishment” in the definition, comeuppance is often viewed as a bad word, but it’s not always such. It can simply be a word to describe an expected outcome.

Tuesday morning, many across the city of Huron experienced the comeuppance of a weekend of strain on the nationwide power grid that encapsulates so much of the Midwest.

Extreme cold weather from Northern Texas (the southern end of the power grid that South Dakota happens to be on) up through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Montana stressed the power grid in extreme ways.

Throughout the weekend and into Monday, the southern ends of the grid had been experiencing outages as the northern edges (us) were experiencing weather so extremely cold that any time without power could prove deadly.

As the situation changed with temperature on Tuesday in the northern plains area, blackouts happened in many communities in the Dakotas and Nebraska for short times to balance the stress across the grid.

The power grid is intended to handle stress throughout the country that flexes during the year in usage, meaning rarely does the entire grid stress the way it did over those few days. This was a very rare event, and the power companies had a plan for it.

We received the email the night before encouraging conservation of energy, yet I’d taken a shower, my wife ran the dishwasher, and there was a meatloaf and lasagna in the oven when the power went out in our home.

Yeah, we got our comeuppance.

It’s encouraged our children in conservation in the days since. How long that will last, who knows, but it is a great time to explain the benefits of renewable energy.

Instead, our governor used it as a time to make a political grandstand.

The same governor whose office sends multiple emails each month to every reporter who covers her in the state, complaining about the coverage she gets with subject lines that read, “Do reporters care about facts?”

That same governor sent complaints to the White House regarding a project that has been put on hold and a policy toward renewable energy that would seem to be tailor-made for the state to take the lead on.

A recent South Dakota Public Broadcasting special quoted state energy representatives as saying that the state’s energy is produced by at least one-third renewable sources now and will be over half in the “very near” future.

The failure of the Texas grid is a complicated and detailed story that would require a whole other column, but it had little to nothing to do with renewable energy.

The push in D.C. to renewable energy could have significantly positive effects for the state, should Gov. Noem choose to partner with Pres. Biden rather than antagonize his administration.

Instead, the state will likely be the one who ends up feeling the comeuppance of these actions in lost revenue opportunities for generations to come.


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