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Smart Grid bid brightens state’s future

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By Roger Snodgrass

Los Alamos, arguably home of more gray matter per household than any other county in the country, is playing a central role in a state initiative to catch a wave on a promising green business opportunity.

The Smart Grid is a set of ideas about achieving energy efficiencies while enabling effective energy generation and storage from renewable sources. It’s one of the economic dividends awaiting smart people who can start assembling a more intelligent electrical grid.

“If your lights go off in your house, the local electrical substation doesn’t know,” said DV Rao, a staff scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “You have to call and tell them.”

The current system, outmoded and wasteful as it is, can’t fix itself and is not set up to encourage good practices from its customers. Those are among the many shortcomings energy experts are now trying to address.

“If you want to use energy at midnight and want an ‘off peak’ discount, we don’t have such a system.” Rao said, noting that the “intelligence” was not in the electrical system, but rather in the communications systems. Smart metering, home area networks and smart appliances, along with transformative upgrades to the grid architecture, may be able to fill the gaps.


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