Whenever you hear Americans talking about what’s wrong with the country, it’s the cliched answers that you would expect. Our debt and deficit problems are out of control, our banks are too large, our military is too large (or stretched too thin depending on your viewpoint), our educational system is a complete failure, our healthcare system is insane, etc. One thing that virtually no one mentions is the failing infrastructure in the country. Every year we hear President Obama referencing it in his State of the Union addresses; we’ve seen money thrown at it through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. However, America hasn’t truly invested in revamping our infrastructure, which would lead to not only millions of jobs doing the work, but would encourage more companies to move factories here. One of the most important investments we can make in regards to our infrastructure in this country is creating a national self-healing power grid.
For those who aren’t aware of what this is, I will give a very dumbed down example. Imagine a city that has two power sources. The left side of the city is on one power source and the right side on the other. Now let’s pretend something happens to one power line on the left side of the city, such as a lightning strike, car crash, squirrel being electrocuted or whatever example you want to use. The surge from the incident will cause a power outage for the entire left side of the city. This could be problematic, especially if say, there is a hospital in that part of the city who will now have to rely on generators. Under the current structure, the power source would shut down and the entire left side of the city will be without power until the power company is notified and can go out and fix the problem with the line.
Now let’s pretend we have a self-healing grid in place. One established, various switches will be placed on every few power lines. Whenever there is a surge, such as the incident above, the switches will notice it and stop the flow to the line to avoid a surge. The power source on the left side will continue operating, re-routing some of the electrical flows to the areas that are immediately around it. Then the switches will immediately notify the power source on the right side who would re-route electrical flows to cover other parts of left side of the that the other power source can’t reach. The only locations without power would be the area directly between the switches that noticed the problem. Also, the switches immediately notify the power company of problems, eliminating the need for third parties to communicate an outage. To further minimize the number of individuals affected with an outage, solar panels and energy generating homes can be used temporarily as power sources that can supply power to neighboring houses during outages and they can be reimbursed for their usage on their next power bill.
The self-healing grid would be extremely beneficial in greatly reducing the number of power outages when there are accidents. This can help small businesses that may not be able to afford back up generators and could lose business from an outage, or even worse if it is a business that has frozen goods and their products get ruined due to a prolonged outage. These are problems that businesses look at when trying to decide where to locate their factories. Should they locate in the US who has flirted with the idea, or countries such as India, Japan, China, and Germany who have sold out and heavily invested in this idea. We must ensure that we are ahead of the curve on things such as this. It can not only be beneficial in helping individuals, but also businesses and in job creation. There’s no question that we have the ability to do it, but it’s going to take a united country, willing to invest and move forward for the betterment of the country. This is an idea that both parties should be able to support.