At one point in his latest book, Pontoon, Garrison Keillor recites “Sunshine in the Night: A History of the Electrification of Lake Wobegon and Environs”, a locally epic saga by a semi-retired utility executive who wiles his days away composing:

  • The glimmering lights of the little town
  • Shone like a beacon for miles around
  • To many a farmhouse in the gloom
  • And folks who sat in shadowy room
  • And tried to read by kerosene lamp
  • Like soldiers in some foreign camp
  • Cast their eyes to Lake Wobegon
  • And dreamed that the swift advancing dawn
  • Of modern times would reach them soon
  • And turn their midnight into noon.

Indeed, all the folks down at the Chatterbox Café have a stake in keeping the juice flowing, and Keillor indirectly admits to having his own proprietary interest:

  • The glory that was radio
  • Bringing opera and quiz show
  • With the turn of a dial
  • And comedians to make you smile.

But tragedy befalls our Prairie Homer, who having “slipped and struck his head on a bathroom appliance”, lived out the rest of his days in delirium, penning the final lines:

  • Dark shadows hover near, unseen.
  • Men cannot fathom what they mean.
  • They are the shadows of the wings of that dark visitor who brings
  • Death to you and me,Despite all electricity.
  • No device, however grand, can halt his step or stay his hand –Not light nor warmth nor radio wave
  • Can slow our progress to the grave.

In this respect, even the Smart Grid has its limits.


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