The nation’s power grid isn’t something that is easily changed. Millions of miles of infrastructure can’t just be swapped out overnight or even for the GDP of a small country. Increasing power supply and demand puts more stress on the aging power grid, and storm damage even more so. Repair and replacement can help, but are notoriously difficult and expensive. Hurricane Sandy and the following winter storm, for example, left thousands without power for weeks.
Smart grid technology, on the other hand, doesn’t require extensive replacement, but only add-on information systems. Implementation of smart grid technology can speed up repairs and isolate damaged sections while keeping intact sections powered up. Smart Wire Grid, a startup out of Oakland, CA, has been installing its information devices, Distributed Series Reactors [DSR], on power grid lines of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and is now moving to Southern Company, a power company based in Atlanta Georgia.
Smart Wire Grid’s DSRs function like internet nodes, constantly monitoring power flow and enabling the rerouting of power when necessary, whether to manage demand and grid utilization, or to isolate damaged sections. The add-on devices are low-cost and easily implemented, and better management using smart grid technology can go a long way toward extending the life of a power grid and make repairs easier. The success of the TSA project has led Georgia-based Southern Company to look at the new technology, and Smart Wire Grid is also talking with Bonneville Power Association for another pilot program.