A Smart Grid Primer: Complex and Costly, but Vital to a Warming World


Transforming the archaic power network to a smart grid has taken on added urgency post-Sandy. What upgrades are needed, why and what's the holdup?       

                    By Elizabeth Douglass and Maria Gallucci

A week after superstorm Sandy left a huge swath of the East coast without electricity, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unleashed a blistering critique of his state's utilities, calling their restoration efforts inadequate and deriding the electric system as "archaic and obsolete."
The vast and lengthy power outage isn't the first disaster to expose weaknesses in the nation's aging electric grid. But Sandy—and the prospect of climate change fueling more storms like her—has added a sense of urgency to fixing the power system and has drawn politicians and the public into the debate over how to do it.
"We need to seriously overhaul the energy regulatory and power distribution in this state," Gov. Cuomo said last month as he announced an investigation into utilities' storm preparations. "Let's make the changes we need to make, and let's do it while we are still in the moment."
Cuomo's post-Sandy wish list is sure to include transforming the state's antiquated power network to a smart grid that's capable of sensing, reporting and automatically adapting to problems anywhere in the electrical system. Such upgrades are a complex and costly undertaking. But the need for them—in New York and across the country—is becoming hard to ignore.

      See Also: 
                    Western States to Ease Electrical Grid Woes with an Old Technology Made New       
                    3-D Maps Pictured Sandy's Devastation–Five Years Ago       
                    Superstorm Sandy Delivers Wake-Up Call for Low-Lying Florida       

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