A recent article on the US electrical grid has compared the transition to the new smart grid to the emergence of cell phones and wireless communications in general.
Back in the 1970’s, when I was a young electrical engineering student, telephones were still “land lines.” Every home had copper wires coming into the house (or apartment) to provide telephone service. But, when I studied communications theory, I learned that this was a clumsy, costly way to provide communications because, unlike electrical POWER, all you needed to do was provide electrical INFORMATION. A smarter way to do it was to send the signals through the air, like with radios.
Today, using solid state electronics and computers, almost all communications is now wireless. We still need to provide electrical power through wires, but modern electronics can do everything else – like control the flow and distribution of electricity.
A similar paradigm shift is now happening with the GENERATION of electrical power. This time the transition is happening, not only because of new TECHNOLOGY, but because of new ECONOMICS. The new technology is wind power and solar energy, which is both a smarter and cheaper way to produce electricity.
In the last two decades the cost of generating electricity in centralized coal and natural gas power plants has increased 74%. This has put the utility companies in a bind, because their customers don’t want to see their rates continue to increase. Public utility commissions have been aware of this and have known for some time that their “paradigm” for the electrical grid was going to have to change – substantially.
As the saying goes, old habits die hard, but at this point it seems pretty clear where we are all headed – toward a smart, computer-controlled grid – with distributed (mostly) clean power generation – and with numerous, often independently owned, power generation sources from wind farms, large and small arrays of solar panels, and, where feasible, hydroelectric power stations.
While the utility industry struggles with all of this, what can YOU, as a consumer, do? Well,you can also take advantage of the new technology to give yourself more freedom and independence and save money. You can generate your OWN power and become one of those independent power producers.
If you are a homeowner you can install solar panels on your roof. If you live in an HOA community, your community can get a solar system.
This paradigm shift is not only for wealthy investors. This one is for nearly EVERYONE.