Hurricane Sandy spurs calls for “smart grid” development

Written By: Thatcher Michelsen December 13, 2012 0
The damage from Hurricane Sandy was widespread, but a smart grid may have helped prevent some of the electrical outages for going on for so long.
The damage from Hurricane Sandy was widespread, but a smart grid may have helped prevent some of the electrical outages for going on for so long.

In the wake of this fall's Hurricane Sandy, which left devastation up and down the northern Atlantic coast, some professionals in green technology industries have called on the nation's leaders to take a more proactive stance on the concept of a "smart grid."

The idea for a next-generation electrical system, according to General Electric Digital Energy's John McDonald, would have empowered utility workers to pinpoint and repair damage more quickly.

McDonald argued in a recent article published by various green advocacy websites that this kind of initiative might have alleviated some of the ongoing distress taking place in affected regions, including New Jersey and New York City.

One element, smart metering, would have delivered crucial information to electricity providers in a real-time format, instead of relying on damage reports from customers or authorities. In his piece, McDonald blasted current networks that only enable such alerts if they occur in certain areas.

"Not all utilities have invested in those technologies," McDonald told AOL Energy in an interview. "They are not as up to date and effective as they could be. They are in the best position when the storm hits and comes through their service area."

Another component lacking in most electric grids, a geographical information system (GIS), could have created a digitized map of the service areas with up-to-date statuses on the different portions of the network. With this piece of technology, providers could spread resources more effectively by utilizing a comprehensive layout of the affected regions.

According to EarthTechling, a green news source, nearly 10 million people were impacted by Hurricane Sandy. This event, though tragic, will hopefully serve as a wake-up call that the American electrical grid needs more safeguarding against natural disasters.

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