How Technology Will Upgrade Transmission Infrastructure

How Technology Will Upgrade Electrical Transmission Infrastructure

September 23, 2014

America’s current electrical transmission grid was conceived over 100 years ago when personal electric needs were limited to light bulbs – and a radio if you were lucky. Over the years the existing grid has been maintained and upgraded as technology advanced. But with the ever increasing rise in needs and the demand for electricity expected to double by 2050, new technology has sparked a vital evolution of the country’s electrical transmission infrastructure.

Aging Infrastructure

Originally designed in the 1890s, our country’s first network was initially designed to deliver electricity to consumers at a monthly cost, based on consumption. Bidirectional communication between the consumer and the utility was neither planned nor even considered at that time. This limited one-way interaction makes it difficult for our current electrical grid to adequately accommodate the new technologies of the 21st century and our increased reliance on digital equipment. However, continuing advances in technology has led to the invention of the smart grid. Smart grid uses digital technology to create a two-way dialogue where electricity and information can be exchanged between the utility and its customers.

As many of us has experienced, our electricity can be disrupted by events such as a severe storm or earthquake. In fact, even something as seemingly removed as a terrorist attack can cause dangerous power outages. Disruptions to our electrical transmission infrastructure can pose harm to our personal safety (particularly in the cold winter months where the absence of heat can cause illness or death), threaten the stability of our economy and even present a national security threat.

Benefits of a Smart Grid

One of the key benefits of smart grid technology is in the event of a power outage, the two-way communication enables the system to reroute and mitigate the effects of a power outage. Within a smart grid, a developing network of communications, controls, computers, automation and new technologies work together to make electrical consumption more efficient, reliable and secure, as well as greener.

Smart grid technology also makes us more informed participants in our energy use and consumption by providing more information, transparency and control. For example, instead of waiting for your monthly electric bill to find out how much electricity your household has consumed, this technology will enable consumers to monitor and adjust their consumption in real-time.

New digital smart meters will enable your home, energy provider and appliances to communicate with each other and make automatic adjustments to help control your energy costs and show you how much electricity different resources are using.


Our ever growing demand for electrical power, increased demand for consumer participation and need for consumption transparency is putting pressure on our 100+ year old electrical infrastructure. Technology will help revolutionize our electrical infrastructure. As we participate from the standpoint of an informed consumer, we can help foster the smart grid’s replacement of today’s aging infrastructure. And, we can better manage our electrical needs by taking advantage of the two-way communication of our utilities.