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Smart Grid: The Key to Our Energy Future

Smart grid technology is gradually transforming the way we produce and consume electrical power, but the pace of full-scale adoption is beginning to accelerate.

March 2011
(page 3 of 3)
State renewable portfolio standards (RPS) require utilities to use renewable energy or renewable energy credits (RECs) to account for a percentage of their retail electricity sales or generating capacity according to a specified schedule. At press time, 29 states had an RPS, and seven others have adopted portfolio goals that are not legally binding.

The Texas RPS has spurred several smart grid initiatives. Smart Meter Texas partners the energy companies Oncor, American Electric Power, and others to deploy more than seven million advanced meters. These meters enable consumers to make informed energy choices, enroll in energy supply contracts, and take advantage of innovative energy services.

A number of large cities have embraced smart grid development. Miami; Austin; and Boulder, Colorado, adopted smart meters and wireless communication systems that linked power suppliers to consumers early on. Smaller metros such as Jackson, Tennessee, and Ponca City, Oklahoma, have established similar initiatives with great success.

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A Political Bump in the Road
Smart energy is practical because it is non-ideological. But since the government is promoting smart grids to address energy independence, global warming, and emergency resilience, the subject gets tangled in politics. As a result, a comprehensive national energy policy in support of smart grids has been elusive.

But no matter how the political debate proceeds, we will eventually see an electric power grid that is smarter, more transparent, more efficient, more accessible, and more resilient. The anticipated uneven adoption of smart grid technologies across the country will require location selectors to be mindful of the differences. Choose wisely.

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