By Silvio Marcacci, energyNow!
In 2003, an overheated power line near Cleveland, Ohio started a cascade of power line failures and caused the worst blackout in U.S. history. Since then, utilities and grid operators have employed new technology and procedures to prevent another major blackout – but can they compete with an aging grid and estimated $1 trillion in required new investment?
The North American electricity grid, made up of four distinct grids, or interconnections, powers every aspect of life in the U.S. The web of 450,000 miles of transmission lines carries electricity from more than 6,000 power plants to 140 million customers.
But the grid was predominantly built between 1950 and 1980, and technology’s spread into homes and businesses has exponentially increased power demand across the country. Major outages have been avoided, but smaller power outages have doubled over the past decade, costing the economy about $180 billion a year.
Faced with surging demand, aging equipment and a lack of new transmission, federal officials and grid operators are working to make the grid smarter and more efficient.
energyNOW! anchor Thalia Assuras looked at cutting-edge technology that can prevent blackouts before they occur, talked to federal officials about government efforts, and went inside the high-tech nerve center of the country’s largest grid operator to see how we’re guarding the grid. To watch the full segment, click the video below:
Editor’s Note: This cross posted column starts a new partnership between EarthTechling and energyNow!, a half-hour weekly TV news-magazine and opinion program designed to inform and engage Americans on the most pressing energy issues of the day. Author credit goes to Silvio Marcacci, director of outreach and public relations.