- CenterPoint Energy (CNP), AEP, San Diego Gas & Electric, PG&E and DTE Energy are among the utilities remaking their local grids for more "intelligent" operations with sensors, switches, smart meters, wireless relays and data analysis software that assimilate customers’ power use in real time.
- CNP’s first phase in Texas is scheduled to be completed by year-end at a cost of $138 million, with the help of $50 million from the federal government. PG&E’s smart grid R&D facility has 120-plus engineers and technicians testing smart advances, and DTE Energy has begun a five-year, $250-million grid upgrade.
- U.S. power outages are up 285% since 1984 and the outages are the longest-lasting among major industrialized nations, costing businesses as much as $150 billion a year. Smart algorithms can analyze weather patterns and spot weaknesses in the lines to predict failures, reduce the risk of overload—and may be necessary if the nation’s grid is to absorb and manage changes from distributed energy resources.
Line breaks can take hours or days to find and 60% of linemens' time is in searching for them.
The U.S. electrical grid is possibly the biggest machine on earth and is valued at $876 billion, according to the Edison Electric Institute, but it is an underfunded complex of almost 7,000 power plants, 450,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines and 2.5 million miles of feeder lines.
The grid is managed by 3,300 utilities serving 150 million customers but was mostly built after World War II with a Thomas Edison-era design.
Half of U.S. homes still have mechanical meters that require meter-readers and most utilities can’t analyze customer energy use except through their monthly bills.