The so-called “grid” is not just an electrical transmission and distribution system. It is the integration of transmission and distribution with power generation. Edison invented the light bulb, the phonograph and the first electrical generating and distribution system. If he were transported in a time, Edison would be amazed by progress in lighting and sound recording, such as the LED light or the iPod. On the other hand, he would easily recognize much of the basic technology behind today’s power system.
We need a 21st century electric grid for a 21st century economy. The bottom line is that we must have an efficient electricity infrastructure to compete in the global economy.
Today, China has the highest voltage and capacity transmission lines. Ireland and Spain have a grid system that efficiently integrates large percentages of wind onto the power grid. We can’t let the rest of the world pass us by.
We need to modernize the grid to:
- Improve reliability, especially as we face new complexities like two-way energy flow and cyber security challenges.
- Increase the overall efficiency of our generating, transmission and distribution system.
- Facilitate the growth of renewable energy sources like solar and wind, and enable electric vehicles and dispersed generation. The U.S. needs an electricity system that can automatically synchronize intermittent renewable energy sources with fossil energy generation and energy storage.