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The Smart Grid: Status and Outlook

CRS report via FAS – The Smart Grid: Status and Outlook. Richard J. Campbell, Specialist in Energy Policy. April 10, 2018. “The electrical grid in the United States comprises all of the power plants generating electricity, together with the transmission and distribution lines and systems that bring power to end-use customers. The “grid” also connects the many publicly and privately owned electric utility and power companies in different states and regions of the United States. However, with changes in federal law, regulatory changes, and the aging of the electric power infrastructure as drivers, the grid is changing from a largely patchwork system built to serve the needs of individual electric utility companies to essentially a national interconnected system, accommodating massive transfers of electrical energy among regions of the United States. The modernization of the grid to accommodate today’s more complex power flows, serve reliability needs, and meet future projected uses is leading to the incorporation of electronic intelligence capabilities for power control purposes and operations monitoring. The “Smart Grid” is the name given to this evolving intelligent electric power network. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) describes the Smart Grid as “an intelligent electricity grid—one that uses digital communications technology, information systems, and automation to detect and react to local changes in usage, improve system operating efficiency, and, in turn, reduce operating costs while maintaining high system reliability.”

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