The Wonderfully Intelligent Smart Grid System

By: Grace Gray; Phillips Exeter Academy

          Sustainability has recently found an outlet to change the world through the improved electrical system: the Smart Grid. The Smart Grid maximizes energy usage to minimize prices and waste. If implemented in America, it will not only lower our price of living but improve our country and thus the world as a whole.

          When our country’s electrical system was built in the late 1800’s, power plants would spring up where demand was highest. This system required that there were enough power plants to power the electrical demand during peak hours; when the peak hours ended and demand of energy dropped, the power plants’ excess energy would go to waste. After the technology boom and surge of the middle class in the 1900’s, soaring energy demand prompted more power plant construction more energy waste in construction and operations. 
Energy consumers were charged a flat price for electricity under this system, and that price has risen as additional resources and energy are used. With the Smart Grid system, however, prices would fluctuate with demand, incentivizing consumers to use lower-priced energy during the non-peak hours, thus leveling out the amount of energy produced.

          The Smart Grid system allows two-way power communication between consumers and manufacturers. Machines can run when peak levels drop and prices are lower, which further levels out power production throughout the day and minimizes prices. Almost every electronic can be a part of the Smart Grid. For example, refrigerators can turn off their energy for very small time periods to save energy while maintaining the fridge temperature. Washers and dryers can run when the energy prices dip below a certain rate. Heaters and air conditioners can turn off while a house’s owner is away and turn on before the owner returns home to welcome him or her into the perfect climate.

          The Smart Grid even encompasses cars, electrical cars to be exact. Someone can plug their car in at night to charge, and the car will buy energy from the Smart Grid when it dips below a certain level, based on energy demand. The owner can then drive to work and plug the car into a station at the office; energy rates will rise with demand as the day progresses. When energy rates reach a certain level, the car can sell some of its electricity back to the grid to supply other people’s energy at a higher price that the car bought the electricity when it was charging last night. The owner thus makes a profit off of this energy while still having enough electricity left in the car to drive home and complete all the other tasks for the day. Electrical cars will also decrease our country’s dependence on foreign oil, which in turn can spur innovation of more green solutions. 

          The implementing the Smart Grid in our country will not only help the world and our wallets, but it can also inspire us to further out-green innovation and preserve our amazing world.

Sources: 
1. https://www.smartgrid.gov
2. https://www.smartgrid.gov/the_smart_grid/plugin_electric_vehicles.html
3. https://www.smartgrid.gov/the_smart_grid/smart_grid.html
4. https://www.smartgrid.gov/the_smart_grid/smart_home.html
5. https://www.smartgrid.gov/the_smart_grid/renewable_energy.html
6. https://www.smartgrid.gov/the_smart_grid/consumer_engagement.html
7. https://www.smartgrid.gov/the_smart_grid/operation_centers.html
8. https://www.smartgrid.gov/the_smart_grid/distribution_intelligence.html
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