If you are an electrical enthusiast, energy cooperative member or have ever had to read your own electric meter, you may have heard something about this. While manual readings are mostly a thing of the past, some electric companies may not have yet switched completely over to what is being called the Smart Grid.
The electrical grid is how we connect to and access electrical energy via power plants. What the Smart Grid entails is an upgrade of the timeworn electrical grid system in order to catch up with modern day demands for power, while utilizing the latest in digital advances. This renovation uses much of the already existing structures, but adjusting where possible in order to take advantage of modern technology. Some companies that use Smart Grid processes have wireless meter capabilities, but some, like Illinois electrical co-ops, use the already existing power lines for their meter and grid communications.
According to electrical cooperative experts, it is a more efficient and consistent alternative to the dated grid system. Those on the grid will not have to read their own electric boxes and report usage, making billing easier. Additionally, the Smart Grid will facilitate power stations in outages, allowing them to pinpoint them are as they occur. Also, it may allow energy conservation from downtimes as reserve for peak times. This should not leave your local power company out of touch, but could actually make it easier for them to respond to customer service questions or issues.
Some university scientists and researchers are taking part in grant funded explorations that will allow further examination into Smart Grid capabilities. Specialists state that more research is needed regarding reliability, especially when putting other energy sources such as solar and wind power in the mix.
Though it doesn’t hurt to stay off the grid a bit more and reduce our need to be incessantly plugged in, the Smart Grid is a pertinent topic of interest in an energy hungry world.
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