As you may know, the whole purpose behind Net Neutrality is that everyone has equal access without the interference of major monopolies on any part of the internet.
Now there’s a possibility that the U.S. electrical grid is going the same route.
You see, grid reform is becoming more and more necessary. The country’s energy demand is rising, and with the proliferation of renewable energy sources, grids need to be adjusted to integrate the new electricity.
The country’s first experiment with grid neutrality began with the former problem: electricity demand in Brooklyn and Queens, two major boroughs in New York City, was growing so quickly that it was going to outstrip the output capacity of Con Edison’s stations for the areas.
Con Edison estimated that it would be short about 69 megawatts in demand by 2018 if something wasn’t done.
The first idea was the traditional route: build more power stations. However, this would have cost the company more than $1 billion.
The alternate idea was radical, but more affordable: 17 MW of that power would be from infrastructure investments, and the other 52 MW would come from outside sources.
What kind of outside sources you ask? Any that were offered, really.
Much like funding platforms on the internet, Con Edison decided to crowd-fund its electrical needs. It put out a call for any projects or proposals on how to solve the problem. 78 responses came back, and the final plan proposal only cost the company $200 million.
This included, in addition to the smaller infrastructure investment, a demand management system. Under this system, Con Edison’s customers would be offered a small payment to allow their electricity to be reduced slightly during peak hours.
The result is excess energy that can be re-routed to pick up the slack; this will be regulated by third-party companies.
Much like Net Neutrality, this plan spreads the responsibilities out into both the hands of Con Edison and the third parties that will help run the grid adjustments.
This kind of change could lead the way into a country-wide open-access energy grid run not by single companies, but by a cooperative network of energy providers.
Now, to be fair, the idea is still radical. But with the growth of home energy storage systems and net-metering plans that feed excess energy back into grids, it may one day be a viable option to keep the U.S.’s electrical grid running smoothly and efficiently.
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Until next time,
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