"Much of our infrastructure was built in the late 1800s and it's beginning to fall apart.” Vivek Shandas, an urban-planning professor at Portland State University made that comment and gives the U.S. grid a D+ for disaster preparedness.
Like many countries, the U.S. is reliant upon an old network of coal-fired power plants and natural gas pipelines. The next big storm or natural disaster could completely decimate the system. San Diego Gas & Electric found one model solution. Sempra Energy leased land in Mexico for 47 wind turbines. The energy harvested in Mexico is then sent to California over a 3.5 mile long transmission line. By harvesting energy where it is most abundant and sending it to where demand is high, the wind farm adds stability to the grid. Wind farms are only one avenue toward a renewable grid. A handful of wind and solar projects are helping to power communities across the country. But that isn't enough. Manal Yamout, a vice president at Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS), said, “We built our whole grid for 100 years on the premise that we couldn’t store power — and now we can…” and we should. A total reconstruction of the grid is the next step. But if progress continues at a snail’s pace, how will we weather the next big storm?