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A leading developer of smart grid technology is urging the new Obama administration to take the steps necessary for implementing a true smart grid.  Optimal Technologies International says the smart grid will guarantee a safe, secure, reliable and efficient power source for a sustainable future.

President-elect Obama made a sustainable future power grid central to his campaign as he was swept into office in November.  Obama has voiced lofty goals for renewable energy and a smart grid that will integrate plug-in vehicles.  Thousands of new jobs will be created from the new technology as it is implemented including new opportunities from the demand side.  Power consumers will be able to sell excess energy generated at the home back to the grid.

Many industry insiders are calling for incremental steps to be taken to ward off the inevitable meltdown of the power grid in its current state.  Optimal Technologies says the Obama administration must take a serious look at the current state of the power system and put forth changes that will have a lasting effect that fundamentally changes America’s energy policy.

"Such leaders as Vice President Al Gore and Google CEO Eric Schmidt are advocating that we advance beyond our dependency on polluting coal, as well as move quickly to upgrade our ailing grid system,” said Roland Schoettle, Optimal Chairman and CEO.  “For this to occur, we must demand a sea change in the way that electricity is managed, both from a business and operational standpoint.  This, in turn, requires a new regulatory environment, at both the federal and state levels."

According to a recent study from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) smart grid technology represents a cost effective approach to the United States’ energy woes.  Energy consumption can be reduced significantly while hooking up renewable energy sources much more quickly than before.

All of this comes amid concerns voiced by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) that our current power grid is hopelessly insufficient to suit the future demand and changing energy policy.  According to the Edison Electric Institute, the cost of completely overhauling America’s power grid will run between $1.5 and $2 trillion over the next two decades if the current trajectory is maintained.

Much of these costs can be avoided if an optimized smart grid is implemented.  America’s smart grid would consist of an optimized mix of legacy power generation, transmission, and distribution as well as new demand side technology that would allow residents and businesses to generate their own power on site.

The smart grid will use the latest technology to enhance visibility into the entire system from the point of generation to the point of consumption.  This enhanced visibility allows for the entire network to be optimized to maximum efficiency.  Whenever possible, new power generation will always be renewable.

If done correctly, the smart grid of the future will:

  • Dramatically reduce the cost of improvements to power grid infrastructure in order to meet security, environmental, and reliability requirements
  • Allow for wide-scale renewable energy resources and the optimization of it
  • Allow for small-scale renewable power generation at a customer’s home or business
  • Easier transition to electric vehicles from gas-powered vehicles
  • Allow for electric vehicles to store power and feed back to the grid when necessary to offset the variable nature of renewable power
  • Creation of thousands of high-tech jobs

"These recommendations are tantamount to a complete rethinking of how power is managed, bought and sold," said Schoettle. "For those who urge a more cautious approach, there's nothing safe about continuing to rely on the same old methodologies that have resulted in a disaster prone grid that doesn't meet our present requirements for information-age power quality, doesn't meet our need to maximize clean and green, and doesn't invite nearly enough innovative new jobs. If we as a nation are to remain globally competitive, we must act boldly to upgrade the aging infrastructure and replace it with one that can handle the increasing demands placed on it."

The smart grid enhancements do not need to cost nearly as much as some have predicted.  As Barack Obama pointed out, the smart grid revolution has the potential to create millions of jobs.

"A greener, more efficient, and highly intelligent grid is within our grasp. Let's not let it slip away," said Schoettle.

Optimal Technologies International
Two Progress Plaza
100 East Davie Street, 19th Floor
Raleigh, North Carolina 27601

Electric Power Research Institute
3420 Hillview Avenue
Palo Alto, California 94304

Edison Electric Institute
701 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004-2696
© No Reproduction without permission.

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