If everything seems destined to be made smarter, including cars, phones and even light bulbs, that trend includes the biggest device in most communities: the lines, transformers and switches that constitute an electrical grid.
Grids are getting brainier, or more computerized, and capable of swifter decisions and actions than humans can now do. That’s why the giant engineering firm, Siemens, has invested $750,000 to open a small but highly wired classroom at the University of Central Florida for teaching students how to run a digital grid.
An ideal “self-healing” example of what a smarter grid would do is to detect a neighborhood outage and restore power in less time than it takes to read this sentence.
In the old days, and often still today, a utility wouldn’t know lights were out until it got calls from disgruntled customers. Workers would drive slowly down a street or alley, scanning lines and poles for trouble.
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