According to the National Academy of Engineering, the crowning achievement of the 20th century was the electric power grid. The electric power grid is one of the most complex engineering systems we have today and affects every aspect of our modern lives; from how we eat, drink and interact with each other to how efficiently our economy moves towards a higher standard of life. There is no question on how important our electric grid is!
Knowing the above, one would think we would significantly invest in the progress of this important innovation. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. At the recent, National Clean Energy Summit, Jesse Burst pointed out the vast improvements in our adding machines – think the calculator used in the 1950’s verses the large data farms. Or perhaps think of the phones we used in the 1950’s verses the smart phones we have today, the list could go on and on! Unfortunately, the way we receive our power today in 2011, uses the exact same technology we used in the 1950’s. Could you imagine carrying around that old, rotary telephone these days? (You can watch Jesse Burst’s presentation here)
Upgrading our transmission grid can be done primarily through private investment, but will require a series of public policy fixes, including:
- Resolving the gridlock over planning, siting, and cost allocation.
- Providing incentives for the deployment of “smart grid” components.
- Taking measures to increase the physical and cyber-security of the grid.
- Providing the conditions necessary to ensure that new grid investments help lower emissions from the electricity sector.
Most of Nevada’s best renewable energy resources are located in rural areas where access to transmission lines is sorely lacking. Upgrading lines in these energy rich locations will create jobs and can power towns and cities throughout our great state. Transmission lines linking northern Nevada with southern Nevada must be built so that we can operate our two grid systems more efficiently and improve energy reliability; making our energy more affordable for all ratepayers.