For decades the grid’s basic structure was pretty much the same. According to the Energy Information Administration, fossil fuel-based power plants—burning coal, oil, or natural gas—create nearly 70 percent of the nation’s power, while nuclear power accounts for about 20 percent. The grid delivers electricity from the power plant to anywhere its needed. It’s what is plugged into light switch or power up of the computer. Current electric grid consists of more than 9,200 electric generating units with more than 1 million megawatts of generating capacity connected to more than 300,000 miles of transmission lines.
The Smart Grid represents an opportunity to move the energy industry into a new era of reliability, availability, and efficiency that will contribute to our economic and environmental health. Advantages of the Smart Grid are:
- More efficient transmission of electricity
- Quicker restoration of electricity after power disturbances
- Reduced operations and management costs for utilities, and ultimately lower power costs for consumers
- Reduced peak demand, which will also help lower electricity rates
- Increased integration of large-scale renewable energy systems
- Better integration of customer-owner power generation systems, including renewable energy systems
- Improved security
However there are disadvantages such as blackouts. That can affect banking, communications, traffic, and security. This is a real threat in the winter, when homeowners can be left without heat. It will also cause the following problems: plant production stopped, perishable food spoiling, traffic lights dark, and credit card transactions rendered inoperable. Such are the effects of even a short regional blackout. A smarter grid will add resiliency to our electric power System and make it better prepared to address emergencies such as severe storms, earthquakes, large solar flares, and terrorist attacks. The new technologies will also help ensure that electricity recovery resumes quickly and strategically after an emergency.
“Modernizing the U.S. Energy Grid.” Council on Foreign Relations. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Feb. 2016. <http://www.cfr.org/united-states/modernizing-us-energy-grid/p36858>.
“SMART GRID.” Energy.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Feb. 2016. <http://energy.gov/oe/services/technology-development/smart-grid>.
“What is the Smart Grid?” Smartgrid.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Feb. 2016. <https://www.smartgrid.gov/the_smart_grid/smart_grid.html>.
“the SMART GRID: an introduction.” Exploring the imperative of revitalizing America’s electric infrastructure.: n. pag. Print.