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White House To Announce IT-Powered Smart Grid 320

Posted by samzenpus
from the future-power dept.
FizzaNawaz writes "On Monday, the Obama administration is preparing announce the next steps that the US will take to build its 21st century electric grid, and IT is expected to play a big part in the plans. The White House is hosting a 90-minute media event called 'Building the 21st Century Electric Grid' and is releasing a new report on what it will take for lawmakers and the private sector to come together to solve this aspect of the energy challenge."
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White House To Announce IT-Powered Smart Grid

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  • Please Stop... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:56PM (#36421130)

    ... And actually put some thought and investment into a secure infrastructure, this time? The existing implementations are horribly reliant on auxilliary security controls, such as firewalls, to protect systems that rely on plaintext passwords and access controls to protect them from buffer overflows and other rudimentary vulnerabilities. These systems, and the NERC CIPS policies that act as a paper armor against scrutiny, present a real danger to our infrastructure, and pouring more money into procurement is really going to make things worse.

  • by cultiv8 (1660093) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:57PM (#36421132) Homepage
    Will Siemens have anything to do with the 21st century electric grid?
    • by hazem (472289)

      Will Siemens have anything to do with the 21st century electric grid?

      I hope not. Siemens does our corporate IT. As well as that works, it will be cheaper, cleaner, and more efficient to build a leaky 1960's technology nuclear reactor in every backyard.

  • This policy framework charts a collaborative path forward for applying digital information or â(TM)smart gridâ(TM) technologies to the nationâ(TM)s electricity infrastructure to facilitate the integration of renewable sources of power into the grid; help accommodate the growing number of electric vehicles; help avoid blackouts and restore power quicker when outages occur; and reduce the need for new power plants.â

    Uh, yeah. Doesn't matter how "smart" you make your grid, every watt used h

    • by yarnosh (2055818) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:15PM (#36421240)
      I had read that there's actually at lot of capacity that just goes to waste over night. If most EVs charged over night, it wouldn't be much of a burden on the grid as a whole (though local transformers might need upgrading). At least not for a while. I mean, it would be a while before most peopel ha gone electric.
      • by NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @10:46PM (#36421856)
        This is pretty much it. The number I heard is that only for about 100 hours every year is the grid at capacity.(In the summer from from what I remember. Lot of people using their AC's.) The entire rest of the time there's a surplus of power. Of course one thing that doesn't get mentioned is that the new meters necessary for the smart grid are quite accurate. (People get kind of pissed when their bill goes up because their old meter under measured their energy usage.)
    • Sheesh, can't you even read the title?

      White House To Announce IT-Powered Smart Grid

      I just invested in treadmill manufacturers.

      • by Culture20 (968837)

        White House To Announce IT-Powered Smart Grid

        I just invested in treadmill manufacturers.

        I just invested in industrial sized cremation ovens, and steam generators. Tomorrow morning I tender my resignation from IT.

      • by kenh (9056)

        I just invested in G.E. - who else will they "award" this contract to, except for their very-own "Haliburton"?

    • by artor3 (1344997) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:27PM (#36421334)

      Lots of generated power goes to waste. Our current grid is effectively "dumping massive amounts of power into a hole." The smart grid helps to reduce that waste.

      • tru dat [google.com]
      • by Ichijo (607641)

        Our current grid is effectively "dumping massive amounts of power into a hole."

        My understanding is that power companies add and remove power sources throughout the day as demand changes. Only a small amount of "waste" exists as a buffer against spikes in electrical demand.

        • by Artifakt (700173) on Monday June 13, 2011 @12:29AM (#36422318)

          There's long distance transmission losses - electricity used to push more electricity along high tension wires for hundreds or even thousands of miles. When a plant in western Pennsylvania or even southern Georgia is sending power to meet peak demand in New York, those transmission losses can be over 50% of what's produced. When the north-eastern grid failed a few years ago, TVA plants in Tennessee and even South Carolina were sending power all the way to Arizona and New Mexico to stabilise the western grid, at up to 85% losses. (And if they hadn't, that blackout would have been nationwide and probably lasted a couple of days minimum for everyone). So yes, "dumping massive amounts of power into a hole" sometimes describes it quite nicely.
                Interestingly, it was a locally smart* power grid, built and managed mostly by the government, that basically became a rock solid line against the cascading failures and then started helping everybody else recover.

          *TVA's not all that smart - built mostly during the 30s and 40s, but it has upgraded control networks several times since then, notably when the nuclear plant at Watt's Bar became part of the grid. Basically, TVA control is 1970s tech, but the north-eastern grid from Niagara on down includes a lot of incompatible privately implemented control systems dating back, in some cases, to the 1920s.

          • those transmission losses can be over 50% of what's produced. When the north-eastern grid failed a few years ago, TVA plants in Tennessee and even South Carolina were sending power all the way to Arizona and New Mexico to stabilise the western grid, at up to 85% losses.

            Thats the "theoretical" loss if you had a direct connection from point A to point B, but that is not the case.
            You have a layered system of high voltage networks. Your plant is only feeding the higher level network and not directly to NY.
            The

    • by catmistake (814204) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:48PM (#36421466) Journal

      if you want to reduce the need for power plants, you're talking about reducing demand, and the only way to do that through the grid is to turn people's stuff off whether they like it or not.

      That would only increase demand. One way to reduce demand for power, and it works well for anything but is not popular, is to tax the living hell out of energy usage that goes beyond some acceptable and reasonable daily allotment. This way energy hogs would subsidize the energy cost for those that conserve.

    • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @10:06PM (#36421584) Homepage Journal

      reducing demand, and the only way to do that through the grid is to turn people's stuff off whether they like it or not. Do not want.

      You have no idea what you're talking about. Apart from many ways already to store energy generated during low demand at more efficient plants, there's all kinds of ways to conserve electricity with no noticeable decrease in work done by it. In fact the "smart" techniques tend to upgrade the electrical system for better control that improves the value of the work done by it, even as it conserves waste. And then there's the really smart techniques that "turn people's stuff off" only when they want (or don't care about) it.

      Just because you don't have the imagination (or research, or hipness to daily news) to realize that smart grids improve the electrical value to its users precisely as it's cutting its consumption, doesn't mean it's not already available. Find out what's beyond your own ability to do yourself before you earn the privilege of dispensing sarcasm about it.

      • For me, the smart grid system is about self empowerment. Here in Houston, I have access through my provider to view my consumption based on the hour. Visually seeing all this activity puts things into perspective. I would say that I've at least cut my usage between 15% and 20% knowing what I know now because of it.

        Eventually, I'm sure the metering resolution will go down from the hour, to every 15 minutes and beyond. Some residents already have access to a 15 minute resolution already. I also expect to seem

      • by rubycodez (864176) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @10:57PM (#36421904)
        as former manager of the engineering/design group of a power switching systems company, I know a bit about smart grids. But how in the U.S. are we going to get away from the evil of the U.S. government and the mega-corporations that have it in its pocket? A smart grid in *those* hands becomes a tools of yet more artificial scarcity creation, more throttling/restrictions/capping, and a "kill switch" for the government. Instead of bringing online the cheap abundant energy of this earth, we'll be rationing the fossil fuels for another century. The first priority isn't a "smart grid", it's alternative energy (and integrating that into the "dumb grid" by decades old means works well enough). This "smart grid" and all this wailing about conserving is at this point in time a distraction from the core issue, that there is no shortage of energy on planet earth. A health growing civilization uses energy; we should be *increasing* our use of energy, not decreasing it.
        • We don't need to increase usage. If you increase efficiency while keeping the same amount of usage, our total work done increases, and is thus the same as stagnant efficiency with increased usage.
        • by hey! (33014)

          we should be *increasing* our use of energy, not decreasing it.

          That argument only makes sense if technology remains constant. I remember the energy crisis of the 1970s. This was before computers and micro-controllers were common. It was still quite common in industrial plants to control liquid flows in industrial plants by using a valve to constrict flow from a dumb pump. That meant energy consumption went up the *less* liquid that was moved. Nobody would do it that way now. You'd use a computer controlled pump.

          In 1958, a 21" RCA color TV would have nearly 30 vac

  • I read somewhere that Bill Clinton put some solar panels on the roof of the White House. His successor (GWB?) took them off, as soon as he can. So, has Obama put them back on? After all, energy policies begin at home.
  • by PPH (736903)

    ... are we leaving the operation of the grid up to IT?
    Uncle Fester [fanpop.com] seems eminently more suited to the job.

  • I wonder if Bruce Willis will still be around to save us from a firesale once this is in place ;)
  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:58PM (#36421524)
    Based on everything I have read about a "smart grid", this is about making sure that everyone has an electric meter that lets the power company (and through them the government) track exactly when and how much electricity they use. "Dear Mr. Doe, we see that you have set your air conditioner to 72 degrees. Don't you think it would be more responsible to set it at 74 degrees."
    • by bunratty (545641)
      My understanding is that power usage could be remotely controlled in case of emergency. Instead of brownouts or rolling blackouts, the smart grid could turn up the thermostat temperature on hot days. Everyone would be slightly less comfortable, instead of some being miserable because they don't have reliable energy.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MrData (130916)
        Or we could just build more power plants to keep up with the population.
        • by rubycodez (864176)
          yes, and a more robust power grid (instead of ones with 70+ year old transformers) from non-fossil sources. Pave the deserts with solar panels, get gen iv thorium breeder reactors online that can't melt down even if not actively cooled, put wind farms where its horribly windy, etc. Let's have abundant energy from non-polluting sources rather than rationing out fossil fuel power with a "smart grid", because that just prolongs the current stupidity.
      • You can already opt into such a program. Peak Corps IIRC

        It reduces your summer electric rates and once you've wrapped the box in aluminum foil and grounded it you are unaffected.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      If you don't want anybody to know how much power you're using, you'd better get some solar cells on your roof. I don't know any other way to generate energy on the premises.
    • Well nobody's forcing you to buy power, you can always vote with your wallet and spend $20k-40k to take your house off the grid :)

      Besides, this is an industry-led initiative, you should be happy at the work the free market is doing!

  • Cheney's Energy Task Force already did all the research. All they have to do is refer to those files!
  • ...you first talk about how you're NOT going to outsource said IT jobs to India.

    News flash there, Obama. US job "creation" doesn't really count if we get outsourced 6 months later after we design and build the damn thing.

    You want to get your lawmakers involved? Then do what's right and keep US jobs in the US.

  • It will cost in the 1st year than the entire projected cost of the project, will run into "unexpected" technological difficulties and the failure will be blamed on "unknown unknowns."
  • I don't know... that's not exactly the body type I'd picture pushing the Wheel of Pain...

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_c4lzk84-Q5U/S_MZB0_tV2I/AAAAAAAAASM/dM18eyQS5kw/s1600/wheel_of_pain.jpg [blogspot.com]

  • In America, IT powers electricity!
  • by DarthVain (724186) on Monday June 13, 2011 @09:33AM (#36424470)

    Is that the IT-Powered Smart Grid is ACTUALLY powered by out of work IT professionals. A large hamster wheel has been constructed towards this end.

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