EPRIPower outages and other power quality disturbances are costing the U.S. economy more than $119 billion annually, according to a recently released study sponsored by EPRI’s Consortium for Electric Infrastructure to Support a Digital Society (CEIDS).

Current estimates to fix the system are between $50 and $100 b, in addition to the $3 b a year that is currently spent on grid infrastructure (this is half the annual investment made 30 years ago even as demand spiked).  The benefits include fewer outages (a huge percentage of that $119 b loss cited above), lower prices (estimates of $500m a year in savings for the NE corridor and CA alone) as power is more evenly distributed, and a wave of technology-based jobs (which pay a great wage and confer excellent skills).    

However, amid new calls for legislation to “fix” the US power grid, an important element is missing from the argument:  quality digital power.  What is needed is a smart power system that not only can prevent outages, but can improve the quality of power delivered.  Fortunately new systems of quality measurement are in the works. 

For example, a current-model, unprotected microprocessor may malfunction if power is interrupted for even one-quarter of a single AC cycle—in other words, for one 240th of a second.

In prior years, a sub second power malfunction wouldn't have been considered a problem.  Most people would only notice a flickering of their lights.  Given today's intelligent infrastructure, it could cause major disruptions — as most of us have seen when our computers and high end devices fry.  [John Robb's Weblog]

Leave a comment