Could U.S. utilities be the next to say "if only?"

India's power has been restored, but leaves lasting impression

Northern India's electricity has been restored after 600 million people were left in the dark for two days last week. While an outage of this magnitude is unlikely to occur in the U.S., grid stability and capacity are still a global concern.

India's Taj Mahal. (Credit: iStock)

This is a reality the U.S. should not take lightly. Case in point is the fact that in 2003, East Coast outages affected approximately 50 million people across the U.S and Canada. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates that $107 billion in additional investment is needed by 2020 to keep the electrical infrastructure whole.

Cooling water restrictions and tighter environmental regulations are being placed on large generation plants due to drought, while the margin of generation available is falling, and mothballed and available generation continue to decline as older plants are retired and removed, according to Doug Houseman, Vice President of Technology and Innovations at EnerNex and an IEEE Smart Grid Technical Expert.

"Should the [U.S.] economy come back between 2013 and 2015, there may not be enough supply to support the new peak (in 2012 we saw new peak records set for the first time since 2008, so the demand for electricity is again increasing) demands," Houseman told FierceSmartGrid.

Utilities should take heed of such predictions.

"The events in India, as well as other outages experienced across the globe, should serve as a reason for the U.S. to look at its current infrastructure and take the needed measures to implement modern grid technologies to improve its stability and capacity and, therefore, limit and prevent blackouts," John McDonald, Director of Technical Strategy & Policy Development for GE's Digital Energy, told FierceSmartGrid.