You can manage your mobile phone plan, but not your household electricity. That’s because the electricity grid that powers America hasn’t changed much since the early 20th Century.
But it won’t be that way for much longer.
Smart grid is the name for new electricity meters that have two-way communication between home or office and the utility supplying power. With software, consumers can tap into the meter, see their energy usage and make decisions about when and how to draw power. Power suppliers can rheostat electricity usage to smooth out summertime peak demand. Future hybrid vehicle owners can charge their cars from stored solar power or sell the energy back via smart grid.
Micro-scale, it’s a way to cut electricity usage by ten or fifteen percent right away. On a larger scale, smart grid is a key technology for accessing power from renewable sources like solar and wind power that vary in intensity. Read more in the new Lexington Institute study Moving Forward on Smart Grid.
The Marines have a smart grid at Twentynine Palms, and Nellis AFB has an even bigger one. Look for state legislation, federal policy and community and business initiatives to push smart grid forward. Policy and regulatory challenges remain, but the technology for smart grid is here today.
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