In truth, our power system already has a helluva lot of capacity built to accommodate variability from energy USERS (supply = demand at all times or system crashes), and it can also be used to manage variability from energy PRODUCERS, like wind. It's not an extra cost, it's built in until the level of variability far exceeds current situations (except in isolated geographic areas of the grid, or island power networks).
In the long run, we will need a power system with more flexible sources of generation or storage to manage higher levels of variability associated with wind and solar power. But for now, on most power grids? Not even close.
And guess what, fossil fuels aren't without variability, either? What if you can't get a coal train to a coal power plant? http://www.marketplace.org/top...
Owning the means of distribution is a traditional function of local government. We call our roads and bridges and water and sewer pipe networks public infrastructure for a reason. In the 19th century local and state governments concluded that the transportation of people and goods was so essential to a modern economy that the key distribution system must be publicly owned. In the 21st century the transportation of information is equally essential.
Is the internet essential infrastructure? Should local governments step in to preserve equality of access?
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein