Engineer Grady Hillhouse from Practical Engineering offers a simple, easy-to-understand explanation of the North American power grid. Hillhouse compares the grid as a market place open to all who need it.
It’s helpful to think about the grid as a marketplace. Power producers bring their electricity to the market by connecting to the grid, and power consumers purchase that electricity for use in their home or business. The economics and politics of the grid are so much more complicated than this, but the important part of the analogy is that, in many ways, the power grid is a shared resource.
Hillhouse also looks at the benefits of a smart grid that uses the available technology to complement the usage of electrical power.
Unlike most of the goods we buy, consumers don’t have a keen understanding of power, how much we’re using, or how much it should cost depending on the time of day or year. A smart grid can take away some of the obfuscation, allowing us to make better decisions about how we use electricity in our day-to-day lives. Ultimately, a smart grid can help us use and take care of this huge machine – this shared resource we call the power grid – more efficiently and effectively now and into the future.