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Posted by Heidi Schwartz
President Obama has been talking about the need for a smart grid to help keep America sustainable and competitive—and in fact, the current proposed economic stimulus package includes $54 billion for renewable energy, energy efficiency and smart grid projects. What exactly does that all mean and how will it affect your area?
A smart grid delivers electricity from suppliers to consumers using digital technology to save energy and cost.
Our current grid resembles a huge network of electrical roads and highways—some are high speed, with electrical traffic covering far distances and others covering shorter distances moving at a slower pace. For this grid to work efficiently, electrical traffic needs to be kept at a steady, consistent pace throughout the grid. Too much “traffic” at one particular time can cause jams or bottlenecks in the system.
Because today’s power needs have changed so much—and power production is growing at a much faster rate than our grid capacity—it is imperative to have good “checks and balances” put in throughout the system to make sure that we can monitor and increase/decrease power to different parts of the grid when necessary to maintain a smooth, consistent flow. Utilizing smart meters and smart appliances together with a smart grid, will give consumers control over their own power consumption and electricity costs. All this will help our nation save money, protect our power sources from blackout, create jobs and deliver clean, alternative forms of energy to every corner of America.
Did you know?
- America operates about 157,000 miles of high voltage (>230kV) electric transmission lines.
- While electricity demand increased by about 25% since 1990, construction of transmission facilities decreased about 30%.
- It is estimated that power outages and disturbances cost the economy from $25 to $180 billion annually.