Wired: Choo-Choo Trains on Energy Crunch. Oakdale, California's Sierra Railroad proposes using locomotive engines to generate electricity for California during crunch times. A bonus is that the engines can be moved near where they're most needed.
I proposed something vaguely similar, but more fantastical, back when California faced rolling blackouts, in this message to the FoRK list:
Anyone here know enough about naval nuclear reactors to say whether parking
a few subs and aircraft carriers in the bay and cabling them to the local
power grid could save silicon valley from rolling blackouts?
If this would work, I'd suggest tethering a sub in the Berkeley
marina, for optimal irony generation.
Turns out the Russians had used tethered subs to generate electricity for onshore purposes before,
so I further refined the idea here:
Gray Davis should get Vladimir Putin on the line; a quick deal would
help restore Russian pride after the Kursk incident, provide
Russia with hard currency, and make Davis the clear front runner
for the 2004 Democratic Party presidential nomination.
Instead, Gray Davis signed long-term, overpriced electricity contracts that he now wants to reneg on; blamed everyone except for the boneheaded regulators and legislators who, in a phony "deregulation", actually constrained the California energy market to be fragile and manipulable; and bailed out his giant political contributor, PG&E -- at the time the third largest bankruptcy ever -- with new policies making it illegal to buy electricity from anyone else.
The phony deregulation (passed while Davis, as Lt. Governor, presided over the state senate), the panicked reaction (under Davis as governor), and the bailout of his monopolist sponsors (engineered by Davis) will continue to cost the state billions years into the future. In a more efficient and enlightened world, Davis wouldn't be facing a tough reelection battle, he'd already have been impeached and removed from office.