$107 billion not enough to fix the grid, says former FERC chairman


By: SGN Staff

By Jesse Berst


Quoted today in the Washington Post, James J. Hoecker, FERC chairman during the Clinton administration, said $107 billion would not be enough to modernize America's aging and faltering grid. That $107 billion is the figure cited by the American Society of Civil Engineers recently as the amount that should be spent by 2020.


The Post called the grid "a patchwork quilt stitched together to cover a rapidly expanding nation." It went on to describe the grid as decrepit and faltering. "Experts fear failures that caused blackouts in New York, Boston and San Diego may become more common as the voracious demand for power continues to grow."


Those looking for better ways to describe the grid's issues to a lay audience may appreciate this quote from Power Line Systems executive Otto J. Lynch: "I like to think of our grid much like a water system, and basically all of our pipes are at full pressure now, and if one of our pipe's bursts and we have to shut off that line, that just increases the pressure on our remaining pipes until another one bursts, and next thing you know, we are in a catastrophic run and we have to shut the whole water system down."


Meanwhile, the current FERC chairman, Jon Wellinghoff, was quoted by Bloomberg Business Week with a slightly different opinion. Speaking about the massive blackout in India, Wellinghoff said they were "examining it in depth" to see whether "there's any issues that we may learn from them." But he also stated that "We believe our grid is generally in good shape."


Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.

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