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Smart Grid or Strong Grid? Comment on Ken Maize

By <a class="post-author" href="/about#robertmichaels">Robert Michaels</a> -- July 8, 2009

Ken Maize’s recent post arguing for a strong grid instead of a smart one made an important point: the Smart Grid is largely an assortment of tweaks and minor fixes that lets America’s utilities get by with the transmission status quo to cope with the growing demand and integration of intermittent renewables.

Policy should instead aim at a strong grid. Redundancies and “excess” capacity could better maintain reliability and lower delivered power costs in a world of monopoly utilities. It would also facilitate market transactions if competitive retail and wholesale power markets prevail.

Maize has well-founded concerns about how utilities in a smart-grid world will

1) administer their new gizmo-heavy systems;

2) justify the benefits that small consumers will get in return for higher bills, and

3) make up for the prospect for increased vulnerability to innocent or serious hacking.