A smart grid will play a key role in shaping US energy demand and creating a more reliable national electric grid.
Implementation of a smart grid will allow consumers to manage and control their energy usage more effectively than they ever have in the past. At the same time, consumers will be able to charge electric cars more cost effectively using off-peak electricity while reducing the amount of foreign oil used. These developments will produce benefits both locally and across the world. For example, if 30 percent of US drivers switch from gasoline to alternative energy sources, such as electric vehicles, the United States would not have to import oil from counties that view our country as a threat. This would result in billions in savings associated with the purchase of this oil and the military costs of securing the access and transportation of this oil.
The smart grid also will play a key role in addressing numerous security and reliability issues that exist in today’s system. For example, by enabling utilities to detect and respond to outages faster—what is commonly referred to as distribution automation—the smart grid will enable real-time fault isolation and recovery of the grid when outages do occur. These new systems will provide utility and grid operators with a view of their grid and can detect potential problems and heal them with the least amount of down time necessary.
Finally, smart grid implementation will increase or enhance system autonomy, asset optimization, outage management, distributed generation integration, and consumer energy awareness. It will also help utilities reduce future operations and maintenance (OPEX) costs, while decreasing the energy and peak demand required. These benefits translate to direct and indirect savings passed on to the rate payers.
West Monroe Partners has published a new whitepaper detailing some of the reasons driving the need for smart grid development. Please click here to download the whitepaper which discusses the many benefits that stem from smart grid implementation.