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The Great American Reset Is Underway and Will Change Everything

image credit: Riley, Unsplash

It is underway. It has huge momentum, and it will change everything we do -- work, leisure, health care, education, use of resources -- and, as a bonus, how the world sees us.

It is the Great American Reset, where things will be irreversibly changed. It is a seminal reset that will shape the decades to come, just as the New Deal and World War II shoved the clock forward.

The reset is being driven in part by Covid-19, but in larger part by technology and the digitization of America. Technology is at the gates, no, through the gates, and it is beginning to upend the old in the way that the steam engine in its day began innovations that would change life completely.

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Driving this overhaul of human endeavor will be the digitization of everything from the kitchen broom to the electric utilities and the delivery of their vital product. Knitting them together will be communications from 5G to exclusive private networks.

President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposals could speed and smooth the innovation revolution, facilitate the digital revolution, and make it fairer and more balanced. Biden’s plan will fix the legacy world of infrastructure: roads, bridges, canals, ports, airports, and railroads. It will beef up the movement of goods and services, supply chains and their security, even as those goods and services are changing profoundly.

But if Biden’s plan fails, the Great American Reset will still happen. It will just be less fair and more uneven -- as in not providing broadband quicky to all.

Technology has an imperative, and there is so much technology coming to market that the market will embrace it, nonetheless.

Think driverless cars, but also think telemedicine, carbon capture and utilization, aerial taxis, drone deliveries, and 3D-printed body parts. Add new materials like graphene and nanomanufacturing, and an awesome future awaits.

We have seen just the tip of digitization and have been reminded of how pervasive it is by the current chip shortage, which is slowing automobile production lines and thousands of manufactures. But you might say, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” The future belongs to chips and sensors: small soldiers in mighty armies.

Accompanying digitization is electrification. Our cars, trucks, trains and even aircraft and ships are headed that way. Better storage is the one frontier that must be conquered before the army of change pours through the breach in a great reshaping of everything.

Central to the future -- to the smart city, the smart railroad, the smart highway, and the smart airport -- is the electric supply.

The whole reset future of digitization and sensor-facilitated mobility depends on electricity -- and not just availability of electricity going forward, but also resilience of supply. It also needs to be carbon-free and have low environmental impact.

An overhaul of the electric industry’s infrastructure, increasing its resilience, is an imperative underpinning the reset.

The Texas blackouts were a brutal wake-up call. Job one is look into hardening the entire electric supply system from informational technology to operational technology, from storm resistance to solar flare resistance (see Carrington Event), from catastrophic physical failure to failure induced by hostile players.

The electric grid needs survivability, but so do the data flows which will dominate the virtual utility of the future. It also needs a failsafe ability to isolate trouble in nanoseconds and, essentially, break itself into less vulnerable, defensive mini grids.

Securing the grid is akin to national security. Indeed, it is national security.

Electricity is the one indispensable in the future: the future of the great reset.

Klaus Schwab, the genius behind the World Economic Forum, called this year from his virtual Davos conference for a global reset to tackle poverty and apply technology and business acumen to the human problems of the world. We are on the cusp of going it alone.

In the end, the route to social mobilization is jobs. The Great American Reset will throw these off in an unimaginable profusion, as did the arrival of the steam engine a little over 300 years ago.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 5, 2021

The Texas blackouts were a brutal wake-up call. Job one is look into hardening the entire electric supply system from informational technology to operational technology, from storm resistance to solar flare resistance (see Carrington Event), from catastrophic physical failure to failure induced by hostile players.

I hope this is the wake up call that 'sticks' finally. While it's still a hot topic in the utility industry and in Texas, I fear at a national government level it's already back to a footnote or a talking point. It needs to be dealt with as a top national security issue, like you say, driven home as one of the most important areas we can/should invest in right now. 

Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Apr 5, 2021

Llewellyn, 

I am looking forward to that digital broom :).  We are on the brink of the next "industrial revolution" but I wonder how the political divide is going to impact the speed of these changes.  Are we going to be stuck in our differences or come together to solve these problems and be the leaders in this revolution?  And how will utilities play a role? 

Richard Brooks's picture
Richard Brooks on Apr 5, 2021

I concur with the author's analysis and conclusions on the importance of reliable electricity, increasing in the future as electrification rolls out. The discussions taking place today regarding wholesale market redesigns, especially for capacity markets, are the cornerstone that will enable the future electric system to thrive and deliver the much needed electrons, reliably, that we all need for health, happiness and prosperity for all. It's imperative that the policy makers that are designing the new capacity market reforms be very careful to prevent politics from fogging the lens on what's important with regard to capacity markets to ensure a reliable electric grid;

Priority 1: Designed to acquire the essential grid services that are needed by a system operator to ensure a reliable electric grid, while also achieving State Energy and Green Buyer goals.

Priority 2: Apply an economic solution on top of a well design technical solution for reliability, that compensates parties adequately to commit to keeping the grid reliable under normal and severe conditions, i.e. cold weather events, rapid electrification of other sectors, and severely punishes those that fail to meet their commitment to perform.

Priority 3: Ensure that consumers receive a reliable electric system at a cost that is just and reasonable, and that consumers within a State are properly charged for State Energy Goals, without impacting other consumers in other States

Priority 4: Stop parties that are promoting an "economics first" design approach to solving the capacity market reforms from influencing the core design concepts, and main goal of capacity markets; to ensure a reliable grid for all consumers. Texas took an "economics first" approach to their market design, failing to recognize that reliability is first and foremost a technical problem to solve.The results were disastrous. 

Priority 5: Act with urgency in the design and implementation of capacity market reforms; the effects of climate change are increasing rapidly and we must respond accordingly in order to achieve the vision outlined in this article.

Very well written and insightful article. Thanks for posting.

 

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on Apr 5, 2021

Thanks for the all too rare well-founded optimism.  I would add that the Great American Reset must be coupled to a Great Global Reset, led by a coalition of the most developed countries, and joined by the rest of the world.  Similar to the New Deal and WWII, the effort must lead, again, to a new world order.

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