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The Grid's Getting a Makeover

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The days of relying on large-scale power plants and long-distance transmission lines are numbered.  “The grid is experiencing its biggest change in 100 years as it decarbonizes in front of our eyes,” said Uplight’s Adrian Tuck. The grid needs a makeover. The average age of an electricity plant in the U.S. is 35 years and most of today’s grid was built in the 50’s and 60’s with a life expectancy of 50 years.   oilprice.com previously wrote that upgrading the US power grid would cost $7 trillion and take 20 years to complete.  How about $100 billion over 15 years?  Those are the specs from The American Jobs Plan released this week by President Biden. ‘The Plan’ would include at least 20 gigawatts of high-voltage capacity power lines covering thousands of miles and the retrofitting of two million homes and commercial buildings.  The Plan will also establish a new Grid Deployment Authority at the Department of Energy, giving them more power to settle disputes over siting power lines. 

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Modernizing and decarbonizing is a must but Texas is just hoping to weatherize their grid.  The state will develop mandatory standards for “winterizing” energy infrastructure.  Weatherizing energy assets would include insulation, retrofitting and applying a heat source to pipes, lines and other equipment.  Morris Greenberg, senior manager of North America Power Analytics for S&P Global Platts expressed his concerns.  “Retrofitting would be a questionable, challenging solution,” Greenberg said. “Most gas plants are built as lean as possible.”

‘The Plan’ also mentions the need to incentivize more efficient use of the current grid. Getting more efficient use from the existing infrastructure could provide a more immediate solution. Microgrids, stand-alone power systems and community storage are also in high demand.  The push for microgrids rest in their ability to strengthen grid resilience and help mitigate grid disturbances.  They would also reduce the 5% loss as electricity is transmitted and distributed.  After it's all said and done, do all roads lead to microgrids?

Dedicated utility crews rush to repair downed lines and blown transformers as quickly and safely as possible.  But what if the grid were better prepared to withstand extreme weather events? Can it be done with $100 billion and completed in 15 years?  What is your reaction to ‘The Plan?’

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 2, 2021

Modernizing and decarbonizing is a must but Texas is just hoping to weatherize their grid.

Great example of when it's a necessity to walk and chew gum at the same time!

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