Monday, June 8, 2009

The Smart Grid -- Part II: Implementing a National Clean-energy Smart Grid

There are four keys in the construction of a twenty-first century smart grid:
  • Good strategic planning -- Currently, the process of planning the grid is too fragmented and decentralized. There needs to be a coordinated and large-scale effort to establish new policies and mechanisms for upgrading technology and dramatically improving reliability, security and efficiency.
  • Positioning new power transmission lines -- A national smart grid will, by its very nature, cross state lines. So the national plan will require the coordinated efforts of individual states. That by itself is a major undertaking which will require the establishment of a "siting authority" that's comprised of states but independent of the federal government.
  • Funding the national smart grid -- Depending on who’s talking, a smart grid will cost as much a $2 trillion and as "little" as $100 billion. Most would come from power companies and private investors, but consumers will eventually foot the bill by paying more for electricity. But it's likely that the smart grid will lower the cost of energy. Over time and after a bit of pain, consumers will recover their investment.
  • Making the smart grid secure and reliable -- Today's electric grids make good targets for malicious individuals and groups. Smart grids, which will be highly complex and interconnected from coast to coast, will be particularly attractive to troublemakers, large and small. So, improving the security of control systems must be one of the prime considerations in creating a new energy infrastructure.
Read more about the challenges facing the development of a smart grid:

Industry working to address smart grid security threats

The National Clean Energy Smart Grid: An Economic, Environmental, and National Security Imperative

FERC proposes policy and action plan to accelerate smart grid development in U.S.

Wired for Progress 2.0: Building a National Clean-Energy Smart Grid

This is Part II of III related posts:

Part I: The Smart Grid -- Electricity with a Brain
Part III: The Smart Grid -- Electric Cars Need Intelligent Power