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The Real Reasons We Must Have a Smart Grid for the 21st Century

Merwin Brown, Ph.D, California Institute for Energy and Environment, University of California
When
Aug 02, 2012 from 12:00 PM to 01:30 PM (America/Los_Angeles / UTC-700)
Where
1130 K Street, Room LL3, Sacramento
Contact Name
Contact Phone
530-752-2635
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Attempts to sell the smart grid to electricity consumers and taxpayers have understandably leaned toward promoting the “carrot” of customer-side applications and their benefits, the “stick” being regulatory mandate.  Unfortunately, these promised benefits, while valuable, are not the whole story, and will likely not be fully realized for many years. If the “carrot” cannot be affordably delivered soon, the appearance of overstated promises, especially given the recent hype and media attention, might ignite a consumer/taxpayer backlash that could derail smart grid progress. And the stakes are high. The smart grid is more than a smart meter, and is a must is for keeping the lights on and electricity prices in check for the early 21st century. The reasons have their roots in trends in the electricity industry that started in the 1960s, and their impacts are reaching critical significance. Today the 21st century electric grid operator faces a growing uncertainty, complexity, inadequacy, conflict, and the need for flexibility, robustness, real-time situation awareness, probabilistic forecasting and rapid response. The smart grid is a necessary, if not sufficient, investment. I think the public needs to be told about this necessity and helped to understand the real reasons sooner rather than later.

M_Brown

Merwin Brown, Electric Grid Program Co-Director for the California Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE), manages a team helping develop and commercialize technologies for the modern electric grid for California’s aggressive energy-policy goals. The team develops, administers, and conducts R&D programs for reliable, safe, affordable, and environmentally sound transmission and distribution systems. California’s Public Interest Energy Research Transmission Program at the California Energy Commission largely funds this work.

Dr. Brown’s knowledge of electric utilities and new technologies results from 40 years of experience with firms such as Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Arizona Public Service, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. He has managed R&D programs of $50 million per year with groups as large as 100 scientists and engineers, and R&D projects as large as $20 million.

Dr. Brown has experience in strategic business planning and provides leadership among stakeholders, researchers, and funding agencies. He has served in advisory positions for many electricity industry organizations, including as an Arizona Solar Energy Commissioner, on the Board of the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy, and as advisor to the Electric Power Research Institute.

Dr. Brown has numerous technical publications and presentations, and holds B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in nuclear engineering from Kansas State University.

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