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Study shows smart grid could bring $2 trillion in benefits to U.S.

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Wednesday, January 16, 2013

One of the biggest concerns over smart grid rollout is the high cost of intelligent electronics devices, installation and services that go along with it. To modernize the aging U.S. electric infrastructure, utilities will have to pump billions of dollars into projects that will create some of the most advanced electric distribution systems on the planet.

However, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Toledo, the economic impact the new systems will have down the road could be as high as $2 trillion, the Toledo Blade reports.

According to the news source, the smart grid is still in its earliest stages, but developments have already helped utility systems marry new cyber technology that has created a new form of electric systems, said George Arnold,national coordinator for smart grid interoperability with the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The merger will eventually give utilities the ability to control physical systems that will lead to huge savings for both the power companies and customers. Still, North American companies will need to accept that up front costs will be highto ensure this becomes a reality, according to Arnold.

When speaking to a group of engineering faculty and students, Arnold noted that the electric grid, which he said he believes is the "signature engineering achievement of the 20th century," is actually stunningly similar to the electric grid that was created in the 1880s.

"The basic system needs to be modernized to meet the needs of the 21st century," he added.

According to the news provider, adding new smart grid technologies to the grid would create as much as $2 trillion by 2030, and this doesn't even factor in the savings that would come from greater reliability. Currently, power outages cost the U.S. about $80 billion every year.

Arnold added that the new devices that are being installed on the grid include grid sensors that measure power flow and new power plants that can distribute electricity more logically. So far, the U.S. has spent about $9 billion on smart grid technologies, but this is expected to rise to about $338 billion.

The idea of a smart grid is becoming so popular, Google and Yahoo have now launched a new program to create a smart energy grid that will serve the Silicon Valley area, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Smart grid deployments have already taken place across North America, and SUBNET has been instrumental in helping utilities efficiently install necessary software and hardware.

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