Experts are currently, no pun intended, working on creating a so called "smart" electrical grid for the nation. Gary Crawford is plugged into this report.
“To once again make the American electrical distribution, transmission, generation systems the leader in the world.”
“Yes, a smarter grid.”
“And that will translate into energy savings and cost savings for businesses and consumers.”
Some of the expert voices at a White House event the other day focusing on upgrading the nation’s electrical grid. Parts of which are using technology and techniques that are, to say the least, old. How old? Well, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu talked about Thomas Edison, you know the great U.S. inventor, creator of the phonograph, developer of motion pictures, the light bulb, the first power generating station in New York. Chu told the audience, if you could take Edison out of the late 1880s, put him in a time machine and send him to today:
“Edison would be amazed at the progress in lighting and sound recording. He wouldn’t understand how an LED works. He wouldn’t understand how mp3 compression works or how an iPod works. But, on the other hand, he would feel really at home with most of power today’s power generating system.”
They laugh but it is true. The U.S. power grid still uses techniques and technology that is over 100 years old. In some places, if you need more power or you need to step it down, there’s no automatic system to do it, no remote controls. Somebody has to go in there and… pull the switches. Transmissions lines across the country – many are decades old and leak power like a sieve. Systems are built such that a failure in one area can have a domino effect, taking out power for hundreds of miles out from the original outage. So, following the lead of many other countries already, the U.S. is beginning to try to design what is being called a “smart grid”.
“This is about consumers saving money. It is about responding to shortages and outages more quickly and improving the recovery time.” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The smart grid development will help generate and distribute power more efficiently with less waste and bring us, as comedian Tim Allen used to say, “More power that’s my motto…” More power.
But not just more power, smarter power, from the so-called smart grid.
“And of course a smart grid means an empowered consumer.” Dr. John Holden, President Obama’s Assistant for Science and Technology says the smart grid will bring about:
“A household or small business not only with greater and more reliable access to power, but a consumer with unprecedented knowledge about his or her energy use. And a consumer able to use that knowledge to modify use patterns, to enhance efficiency and shrink energy bills.”
Experts also say we need a smart grid to help work renewable power sources, like solar, smoothly into the grid and to accommodate all these electric cars that are coming online. And these improvements will not just be for urban residents but: “For all Americans, regardless of where they may live, work or raise their families.” And Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced more money for grid improvements this year for rural electric systems.