The White House is pushing policies to upgrade the aging electrical grid to handle energy from the new power sources of wind and solar. The policies include a “smart grid” that would deliver power from renewable sources and reduce blackouts and consumption, The Washington Post reported
“The task is big but doable,” White House science adviser John Holdren said in announcing the plan, according to the Post. “The Obama administration, with utility companies, is in fact making it happen.” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the U.S. power system is so old that 19th-century pioneer Thomas Edison “would feel really at home with most of today’s power . . . system. We do need a modernized electrical grid.”
Under the plan, the Energy Department will fund smart grid research and the Agriculture Department will provide $250 million in loans to upgrade rural electrical transmission lines. The Electric Power Research Institute has estimated that upgrading the network of 300,000 miles of power lines run by 3,000 utility companies could cost as much as $476 billion, the Post reported.
Such costs combined with power companies that spend only 0.2 percent of revenues on R&D call into question the administration’s plans, the Post reported.
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