The sturdiest of structures is only as strong as the foundation it is built upon. If you build Fort Knox on a foundation of shifting sand, it is going to be much good when it comes to protecting gold. When discussing the future of the United States, the same analogy can be made to the electrical grid.
We are a society in love with technology. From phones to pads to hybrid cars to the coming electric car revolution to the screen you are reading this on, we think of ourselves as oh so advanced. Well, we are but have one major weakness. The vast majority of gadgets in our life run on electricity. This effectively makes the electrical grid the foundation of our economy, our nation and our way of lives.
Unfortunately, we’ve allowed the grid to fall apart. Instead of upgrading it over the years, we’ve basically done nothing other than do basic repairs. The system is inefficient, easily overwhelmed and there are random spots all across the country where electricity goes out from time-to-time. The system sits on the edge of failure and the demands on it are only going to get worse as electrical vehicles start to hit the market.
The answer is a smart grid. You’ve probably heard about this. The idea is to build a new grid that incorporates the old to some extent. This grid would be smart, however, because it would incorporate a massive computer network that would monitor supply and demand. It would then be able to instantaneously move loads to and fro as necessary. This would greatly improve efficiency, which would make for consistent service and lower utility prices.
There are problems, however. The first is money. A rough estimate is it would cost $150 to $200 billion dollars to implement. That’s a lot of money, but is definitely worth it. A country without a solid infrastructure never will grow to its potential. Unlike bank bailouts and the like, this is one expense that is well worth our tax dollars.
The second issue is technology. While most of what we need exists, some of it does not. Fortunately, we are more than proficient at solving such problems in our society. The new technology will most likely also be helpful in other industries, which makes it a win-win.
The idea of a smart electrical grid is hardly a sexy topic. Neither is the foundation of your home, but both are needed for a secure future.