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Smart Grid May 4, 2009

Posted by tackettmedia in sustainability.
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I read about outdated infrastructures in the United States on a daily basis. When I think about infrastructure, the first thing that springs to my mind is roads and bridges and maybe also the sewer system and broadband access.

Even when I hear of news items such as the recent report that cyber spies have infiltrated the U.S. electrical grid, I still don’t think about the necessity to update our electrical grid.

Today, however, I read an interview in the German news magazine Der Spiegel (www.spiegel.de/international) about a California-based company called Silver Spring Networks (www.silverspringnetworks.com). In the interview, company heads John O’Farrell and Scott Lang, explain the importance of updating the national electrical system. Their company produces software and equipment to do just that.

You likely have heard about the Smart Grid through GE commercials (http://ge.ecomagination.com/smartgrid).  In simple terms, the Smart Grid is an updated electrical network that allows us as consumers to know where and how we spend electricity in our homes. Currently our grid is a one-way street. The electrical company sends us electricity, we use it and then we pay a monthly bill.

Especially this year, when electricity bill sky-rocketed, many of us all of a sudden realized that we don’t really know what appliances in our homes use the most electricity. In my home, we set the thermostat at 64 degrees Fahrenheit during winter. We simply cannot lower the temperature any further, so the question becomes, how and where can we be more efficient?

A Smart Grid would allow us to answer that question. It would transform our electrical grid into a two-way street. Our current, outdate electrical network loses up to 40 percent of electricity during the transportation to the consumer. An updated electrical infrastructure would constantly check the functionality of the lines, immediately finding leaks that need to be repaired. When appropriate certain electronic equipment would be able to feed electricity back into the net. It would also improve the usage of solar and wind generated energy. Consumers would even have the chance to program their household equipment according to need so that individual devices would be completely turned off and on automatically.

With all this great news, why are we not having these super-power electrical highways already? Just five years ago, even leaders in global economic matters didn’t think investing in the electrical infrastructure would yield a vast return. They are now re-thinking that approach.

And as usual, cost is a factor. But seeing that the entire overhaul of the electrical grid will create much needed long-term jobs, we, as the consumers, need to demand from our politicians that they examine and implement the possibilities to help finance the improvement of our electrical infrastructure.

What you can do: Call your U.S.  Representative and ask him or her for more information on where this issue stands at the national level and how they are involved in it.

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Comments»

1. Aspirepayopsy - May 20, 2009

Outstanding information. i will definitely visit again:)


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