Brattle principal Peter Fox-Penner was quoted in a recent Time article discussing the state of the electric grid in the United States in the wake of the recent power outage in Washington, DC.
When elected in 2008, President Obama had lofty goals for a digital smart grid that would self-monitor, self-heal, and minimize costly outages by diagnosing problems electronically and rerouting power around them. The recent power outage in the nation’s capital had critics asking whether the President delivered on his promise.
The article, “Rise of the Smart Grid,” argues that President Obama’s $11 billion investment as part of the stimulus package is, in fact, improving the grid. This is evidenced by the fact that utilities are expanding transmission, even though electricity use has yet to recover to pre-recession levels.
“You wouldn’t expect the industry to be building new wires left and right, but there’s a huge amount of activity,” said Dr. Fox-Penner. The article explains that when people see blackouts, they assume nothing has changed. However, stimulus investments in sensors, automated substations, “synchrophasors,” and other electrical equipment are helping diagnose and solve problems before consumers notice them. “People don’t see it, but it’s happening,” Dr. Fox-Penner says.
To read the article in its entirety, please visit the Time website.