RealNews

Technology and Brain Power Used to Tame an Aging Grid

The day-to-day operation of the nation’s power grid is, in many respects, a great marvel — a second-by-second balancing act of the tremendously volatile thing known as electricity, a sometimes wicked creature with a mind of its own that can cause great damage in a hurry. The grid, much misunderstood, is not a programmable network like the phone system or the Internet. Electricity cannot be sent from here to there in nice packages. Rather, the grid is like a giant invisible reservoir where the amount of power being put in at any moment must match the amount being consumed. “It’s the ultimate perishable,” said Dr. Paul M. Grant, a science fellow at the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif. That the power grid has suffered only a handful of major collapses in nearly half a century is, to many, a good record. And despite much criticism in the last 11 days that the grid is antiquated, the system’s transmission towers, power lines and transformers are not rusting hulks on the verge of collapse. Full Story

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