What Exactly Is A Smart Grid?

smart grid photo

Smart grid. Image credit:ZinePress

Most of today's media coverage of the smart grid concept reminds me of that fable of the 6 blind men describing an elephant in which they each describe the whole of animal as whichever part of the creature they are individually touching.

Finally, an accessible, circumspect explanation of the smart grid concept and all of it's major components has been published. It is "The Many Meanings of 'Smart Grid'", by M. Granger Morgan, Jay Apt, Lester B. Lave, Marija D. Ilic, Marvin Sirbu, and Jon M. Peha.Here's the paper's introduction. "America seems to have decided that a "smart grid" is what we need to solve the problems of our electric power system. But, what exactly is a "smart grid"? The answer is that it is many different things.

Some of the things that get talked about are relatively inexpensive and can go a long way toward solving key problems. Others will likely be very expensive, and at this stage may better be left to the realm of research."

You can download the entire 5-page Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center publication as a pdf file; I highly recommend reading the entire paper.

Here is a small excerpt:

At the level of the customer:
• Meters that can be read automatically, without sending a meter reader out once a month. This can be done in several different ways: with a signal that is sent back to the transformer or substation over the power line (power line carrier) and then on to the utility in some other way; by a radio link in the local neighborhood; or by a van that drives around the neighborhood and asks each meter to give an automatic readout, via radio links. Systems like this are already widely deployed by many power companies, and generally pay for themselves through reduced meter reading costs.
Might be a good idea to send a link to your Congressional delegation, with a cover message stating why the ideas in the publication are important to review in totality, in your own words.

More smart grid posts.
A Smart Grid Bubble, or Business as Usual?
Green:Net 2009: Smart Grid Standards According to the Experts ...
SMART 2020 Report: Smart Grids Can Cut CO2 Emissions by 15 Percent ...