Take a look at the nearest lightbulb. Odds are that light will keep on shining until you flip the switch. Electricity is something we take totally for granted today, but as soon as that power goes out, everything about our modern society grinds to a screeching halt. Some listeners may even remember the infamous 2003 Blackout that left most of New England without electricity for six hours on a 90-degree day in August.
Have you ever thought about where your electricity came from? Sure, it comes from the "grid," but where did the grid come from? Today, my guest and I discuss how the nation became electrified. John Riggs studied history at Swarthmore College before beginning a 30 year career working on energy policy in Washington, D.C. His brand new book "High Tension: FDR's Battle to Power America" is an engrossing tale about how President Franklin D. Roosevelt made it his mission to reform an electrical system that benefited less than half the country and was dominated by a few incredibly powerful monopolies. John and I discuss the first wave of electrification in the late 19th century, FDR's efforts to pass legislation to regulate power holding companies, and the Roosevelt administration's New Deal electricity programs like the Tennessee Valley Authority and Rural Electrification Administration.
For more information on John's research, visit his website - www.hightensionfdrbook.com
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This podcast is part of Straight Up Strange Productions. Check out www.straightupstrange.com for more shows like this one.