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Energy Secretary Steven Chu announces new smart grid initiatives

June 16, 2011

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has announced new initiatives to promote development of the “smart grid,” such as the promotion of smart meters. He warned that the nation’s electric grid is not ready to meet the special demands of large-scale renewable energy.

A cabinet document on the smart grid states, “Consumer trust is essential to the success of the smart grid.” Acknowledging consumer privacy concerns, the document proposes that consumers have access to their own smart meter data and have the right to choose which third parties have access.

Chu predicts that within 10 to 20 years, solar panels will become competitive with fossil fuels, providing larger challenges to the electric grid. Solar power generation provides major ups and downs in available power due to the day/night cycle. It is crucial that the grid be capable of storing surplus energy during the day and releasing it at night. Renewable energy sources, which occur mostly in rural areas, also must use high-energy transmission lines to transmit power to cities, and the current capacity of these lines will not accommodate Chu’s projected increases in the use of renewable energy.

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