How to Keep People’s Lights On In Bad Storms (Popular Science)

There are ways to improve the electrical grid in this country so that during storms, even the most intense ones, structures won’t lose power, Popular Science reports. Moreover, “many of the necessary upgrades already exist: They’ve been developed in labs and demonstrated in smart-grid projects across the country. Other steps just require common sense.”

One improvement is to replace our linear structure with a looped one. In a linear system, when a tree hits a line, all the customers beyond that point lose power. In a looped system, however, switches on both sides of the hit isolate the problem.

Other fixes include adopting back-up systems that rely on renewable energy systems that can automatically disconnect from the grid. They just need to be widely affordable. In that quest, a University of Arkansas engineer is developing a $500 microwave-size “green-power node” that can be mounted on a garage wall.

“Truly modernizing the U.S. grid will require an investment of $673 billion,” Popular Science says. “In the meantime, the costs of inaction continue to add up: Hurricane Sandy caused $69.7 billion worth of damage to New York and New Jersey.”

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