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Electrical Grid

An electrical system that generates, transmits, and distributes electric power throughout a region or country.

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Smart Grid

Smart Grid


Credit: Steve Strummer
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pylons-and-Power-Lines_Summer-2013.tif
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Did you ever hear the expression, “work smarter, not harder”? That’s what many people think that our electrical grid should do.

Why It Matters

  • An electrical grid is a network of power plants, transmission lines, substations, transformers, and other devices that deliver electricity from power plants to consumers. 
  • In the U.S., the electrical grid includes more than 9,000 power plants and about 300,000 miles of transmission lines. You connect with the grid whenever you plug in a phone charger or turn on a light.
  • Credit: Rolypolyman
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:UnitedStatesPowerGrid.jpg
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    The U.S. power transmission grid is operated by about 500 different companies [Figure2]

  • The current U.S. grid was designed over a century ago. Back then, people had few electric devices, so power needs were low. Today, the U.S. electrical grid is overworked, inefficient, and plagued with problems.
  • Is a smart grid the answer to our outdated system? Use this interactive Web site to find out what a smart grid is and how it works: http://www.smartgrid.gov/the_smart_grid#home

What Do You Think?

Learn more about a smart grid at the link below. Then answer the questions that follow.

  1. Describe the current American electrical grid.
  2. What is a smart grid? What technologies does it use?
  3. What are some of the benefits of a smart grid?
  4. What are examples of possible emergencies that a smart grid could handle better than the current electrical grid?
  5. How will a smart grid give consumers more control?
  6. Supporters of a smart grid think that it will bring the same kind of transformation that the Internet has already brought to the way we live, work, play, and learn. What do you think?

[Goes with concepts: Electrical Grid (SCI.PSC.246.61), Renewable Energy Resources (SCI.PSC.???), Energy Use (SCI.PSC.???), Energy Conservation (SCI.PSC.???)]

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    Image Attributions

    1. [1]^ Credit: Steve Strummer; Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pylons-and-Power-Lines_Summer-2013.tif; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
    2. [2]^ Credit: Rolypolyman; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:UnitedStatesPowerGrid.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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