The wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine. As the nation transitions to more wind and solar energy, power companies are modernizing with new smart grid technology.


MATER: “It’s having information available to an automated system which takes their preferences, like a computer or an iPhone or something, and then manages their energy to meet their preferences.”

That’s James Mater, general manager at Quality Logic, a company that tests smart grid technology. He says smart grids also help power companies distribute electricity more efficiently.

For example, when people return home from work on a hot day, many turn on their air conditioners at the same time. This sudden spike in energy demand stresses the grid and can cause brownouts. For customers, a smart grid can automatically reduce their energy use when the grid is stressed and rates are high, saving them money.

MATER: “So with some of the smart grid technologies we’ve been implementing, you can do a better job of understanding when those peaks are going to happen and also enlist the help of customers in managing those peaks better.”

Reporting credits: ChavoBart Digital Media.
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More Resources
Smart grid Northwest (formerly known as Smart Grid Oregon)
Pacific Northwest Division Smart Grid Demonstration Project
PNW-SGDP 2012 Annual Report
Smart Grid 2013 Global Impact Report

A regular contributor to Yale Climate Connections since 2012, David Appell, Ph.D., is a freelance writer living in Salem, Oregon, specializing in the physical sciences, technology, and the environment. His...