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How Will the Smart Grid Handle Heat Waves?

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The heat wave in which much of the nation remains mired comes as a handful of communities across the country take their first steps toward implementing smart grid technology. The new meters, electricity distribution management systems, network management software and other technologies are designed to add intelligence to the way power is generated, distributed and used.

Already, smart grid pilot projects are up and running in places such as Harrisburg, Pa., Richland, Wash., and Boulder, Colo. As these regional smart grids expand, their eventual integration into a national smart grid should help make blackouts and brownouts (which of course can be devastating to a region's health and economy) easier to avoid and could possibly lead to discounts on consumer electric bills, provided consumers do not mind handing over some control of their home meters and appliances to their utility companies.

 However, regional smart grids will not be in place until long after this summer's strings of consecutive above-90 degree Fahrenheit days are over—with adoption set to roll out over the next five years or so, provided consumers get on board. Still, the smart grid—which at its essence enables two-way communication of how electricity is generated, distributed and consumed—is expected to have a major impact on how we cope, energy-wise, with many long, hot summers to come, leveling peak demand for electricity with the help of smart appliances (including home chargers for the fleet of electric cars on the way) programmed to dial down energy usage when the grid is threatened with an overload.

From Scientific American
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