For a clean energy future, U.S. must upgrade its power grid

The U.S. power grid as it stands today is a major obstacle in efforts to fight climate change. The network, comprised of 3 separate grids and further divided into 12 transmission regions, share little power between them. This makes it very difficult to build the long-distance power lines needed to transport wind and solar power nationwide.

The climate stakes are high. The billions of dollars approved last year under the Inflation Reduction Act for solar panels, wind turbines, electric cars and other technologies are at risk, if the U.S. cannot approve and build new transmission lines at a faster pace. Just to put it in perspective, transmission capacity would need to more than double to reach the goal of 100% clean electricity generation by 2035.

Plans are currently underway to upgrade 100,000 miles of transmission lines over the next five years. This will include deploying grid-enhancing technologies (GETs) such as high-performance conductors and dynamic line ratings that will enable existing transmission lines to carry more power.

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The Big Wires Act would set a minimum requirement for inter-regional transfer capacity and include GETs among the technical options for meeting the requirement. It would require the sharing of energy from regions with excess capacity to other regions facing energy deficits. This would help get clean energy, such as solar and wind power, from states where it is produced to states where it is needed. The grid is an important part of our energy system and how we manage it will determine how susceptible we become to weather-related events caused by climate change.

Please write your members of Congress at and ask them to support the Big Wires Act (S.2827).

Joseph Reitmeyer, Mount Prospect

Ticketmaster needs to be more consumer-friendly

While the Justice Department claims that Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation Entertainment are in violation of antitrust statutes, it should also look into how difficult it is for consumers to terminate their accounts.

When I decided to travel to New York City last July to watch the Cubs play the Yankees, I had to order tickets through Ticketmaster. At the conclusion of the series, I wanted to close my account, but found it difficult to do so.

The process included the need to access the Privacy Portal where I received an email that stated “Your Privacy Request Needs Attention.” Multiple codes were eventually needed, and verification which eventually led to an email later in the week that my account had finally been closed. Compared to the streaming service FuboTV, where it is really easy to open and close an account in a few minutes, the experience with Ticketmaster was difficult and took too much time.

The Justice Department needs to protect consumers and demand that services that cater to the public are user-friendly, saving them from time-consuming endeavors and unnecessary aggravation.

Larry Vigon, Jefferson Park

Maxwell Street’s immigrant origins

I enjoyed the recent article by Elvia Malagón about the (modified) return of Maxwell Street Market.

I am not sure that she was aware of the market’s origin, as an area for pushcarts and small shops started by the flood of Eastern European Jewish immigrants that arrived in the 1880s.

As the Chicago equivalent of the Lower East Side in New York, Maxwell Street was a launching point for penniless peddlers and budding entrepreneurs. They established the market on Sunday mornings, since doing business on the Jewish Sabbath (Friday night through Saturday night) was prohibited. As the Jewish shop owners moved away, their Black employees eventually inherited the shops, and Maxwell Street was born anew as a blues capital.

In 1983, I named my band (Maxwell Street Klezmer Band) in honor of these immigrants and their neighborhood. One day in the 1990s, when my band had just finished playing a school concert near Maxwell Street, the violinist, a fedora-wearing Jew from Belarus, stopped at a little restaurant and was approached by the elderly Black proprietor. He walked up to the violinist and began speaking to him in Yiddish! He told us that the Jewish shop owners used to teach their Black employees Yiddish phrases in order to have private conversations while a (non-Jewish) customer was bargaining on wares. For example, he said, he learned the phrase “Nemt di gelt” (take his money) meant that the shopper’s offer was acceptable.

Lori Lippitz, founder of Maxwell Street Klezmer Band

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