Smart Grid and Lower Plant Cost?

electrical-command-grid

Above is a picture of our electrical grid for the whole United States. It isn’t deatailed and doesn’t show the many grids that branch off these lines. It is a grid showing all the major electrical control stations. From these red dots, all of the electricity is routed by computers and directed to businesses and homes.

Electricty can not be stored. We generate electricity daily from our power plants all over this map. Some of the sources are hydroelectricity which is generated from large turbines located deep within dams. Nuclear power plants use atomic energy, wind enegry uses windmills, solar enegry uses the sun, and fossil fuel enegry uses combustable items in steam production or combustion to move a turbine that produces energy.  Your town does not get its electricty from any one of these sources. Your town relies on all these sources and the control of that flow directed through the many red dots above.

Raising or lowering the cost of energy directly affects a nursery in several ways. If a fuel source like oil is in demand then plastic pot prices rise as oil prices rise. Plastic pots are made from petroleum products. The energy to heat the nursery is also dependent on the price of oil and how that affects any given power plant at that time. Cost to run power plants that use oil goes up thus affecting the price a nursery has to pay for electricty. The cost is passed to the consumer.

As the oil shortage increases, our demand for coal will increase. Those power plants who run off coal will then pass the cost on to the consumer which means you and the plant nursery. You are starting to see how this works, right? So how do you decrease cost no matter the fuel source?

You make a smarter grid. Look at that grid above. It’s a mess. It’s far more complicated than the above illustration and no one has it figured out completely or exactly. I told you that electrictiy can not be stored and so must be taken from the many different power plants and distributed by computers on steroids to all the locations while hopefully keeping up with ever changing loads.

A whole grid on the Eastern seaboard could go out if a computer malfunctions. That has happened. Remember when NYC went dark and took out a large portion of the Northeast? According to those who study this problem, there is a better solution that will save everyone a buck or two. I know I’d like to pay less for plants.

The plan is to build a better grid that won’t be wasteful. Right now electricity gets dumped or routed to the wrong place. Meaning–some poor guy in the coal mines of Kentucky worked all day for nothing. You paid X$$ for a plant more than you should have because the electricity went down the wrong road or went to a place that already had plenty of it.

Next time you hear the government talking about the Smart Grid and how it’s going to save us money, remember what I’ve told you. A smart grid means better systems, new computers, better routes, and a system that can recognize the load of each user. It means a system that will know the difference in how much electricity your refridgerator needs verses your computer. Each house will get exactly what it needs. Each business will get what it needs so that no business is charged more than another. Right now, the Department of Enegry is running the show.

There is some talk as to privitizing the grid so that each system is maintained and run by a business who is interested in keeping the system efficient. Private business tends to care where the dollar is being wasted. Privitizing our electrical system could be a major dollar squeezing success.

Not believing in the Smart Grid is like leaving your spigot on and letting the water run all the time. If your hose was tied in 50 knots, you would get a new hose. Well America, we can’t afford to keep a kinky electrical system. It’s costing us plant money and that’s just wrong.

Building a smarter grid is environmentally the right thing to do. It’s our responsibility to our children and our world.

I’d like you to take a look at an article I just wrote on Diane Swayer’s 20/20 episode about the struggle of the Appalachian mountain children. It will break your heart. These are coal mining families who work their rears off every day while we waste energy out of ignorance.

Children of the Mountains Struggle to Survive my story about Diane Sawyer and her documentary on the children of Appalachia

20/20 ABC News you can watch the documentary here

6 Comments Add yours

  1. shari says:

    i’d like to know about the hacking into the national electric grid. is it one area affected, or the whole country? have they deleted the programs whoever installed to cut us off? or can they? where can i get more info?
    I don’t know about those sorts of things. I’m not scared though. I just want the system updated so we can be more energy efficient. I suppose it would make it more secure too. I don’t see how someone is going to take over a system when the system is broke to begin with. Those computers are old according to our senators who want to update it. The reason some of our senators want to fix it is because it’s not connected and inefficient.

    In my opinion, an attack on the grid system is like trying herd ants. My report is written to fix the system and make it work better. I don’t know where to get more info.

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  2. Cindy says:

    Hi Anna – I’m back (I hope) after an extended break from blogging so I’m catching up now. I love the design of your site now and this article, is very interesting as all your articles are. The Smart Grid is a very good thing.
    Thank you so much. President Obama is pushing for this to become a reality. I’m Republican and I support it.

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  3. Catherine says:

    I saw the special on the Children of Appalachia, I’m glad you have the link since I missed part of it. It sure does make people realize just how bad people in our own country need help. I’m going to go read your article too.
    What 20/20 did for this town is being talked about in a positive away on just about every local tv station. Someone over at my examiner site claims that ABC exploited these families. I disagreed as it’s bringing jobs and better health care to the region. The area will also be getting a big chunk of the new money being handed out by Washington because of the program. It’s going to greatly improve the economy for a few towns. A few is better than none.

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  4. Darla says:

    All of this is very interesting. Read your article, saw the Children of the Mountains. Wonder what it will take to build a smarter grid?
    Darla here is a quote from Wikipedia. It doesn’t address the cost to build but it does address the savings.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_grid
    For example, if smart grid technologies made the United States grid 5% more efficient, it would equate to eliminating the fuel and greenhouse gas emissions from 53 million cars.[1]
    The then President-elect; now President Barack Obama asked the United States Congress “to act without delay” to pass legislation that included doubling alternative energy production in the next three years and building a new electricity “smart grid”. [2].
    [edit]

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  5. Les says:

    I can’t remember the last time I watched 20/20, until last week when I saw that episode. It was a bright light shown into one of the darker corners of our country. I was aware of and not surprised that people live these lives in Appalachia, but it is always disturbing to see. I never have understood how anyone could be a coal miner, I have a thing about being in caves, let alone miles underground. Ironically, the coal miners are the lucky ones to have jobs they can support a family with. One thing that did surprise me was the whole Mountain Dew issue – who knew?

    Here is a link to a series PBS did a few years ago, you may be interested.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/countryboys/view/
    Thanks for the link. I like to watch these types of documentaries cause it’s how a good many Americans are making it in this world. I applaud their efforts.

    I couldn’t work under ground either. I don’t think most of these guys would choose it if there was a way out. They don’t want their children taking up that profession if at all possible.

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