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Journey to Energy Independence

The Electricity Economy

Coal and steam powered the machines and factories that defined the industrial age of the 18th and 19th centuries. Petroleum powered the economies of the 20th century. In the 21st century the world will move beyond the Petroleum Economy.

First we were told the future would be defined by the Hydrogen Economy; then we were told it would be a Carbohydrate Economy (biofuels); and then Nobel Laureate George Olah proposed the Methanol Economy.

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In this section, AmericanEnergyIndependence.com will explore the potential of a 21st century Electricity Economy.


Consumers can save money, a lot of money, and prevent electrical power outages if they have the knowledge and control to do so. A Smart Electric Grid combined with Smart Meters and Smart Appliances will provide both knowledge and control. Smart Meters connected to a Smart Grid, using software and computer technology, installed in homes, offices and factories, can receive a real-time price signal from the utility, through the power grid, and then return usage information back to the utility. This capability would make possible a wide assortment of products and services that could take advantage of real-time electricity prices.

Smart appliances, smart buildings and smart factory equipment can be programmed to interact with smart meters to insure optimal power usage and give the consumer the best electricity price by "knowing" to shut-down or reduce consumption when prices increase. Smart meters could also measure and control water and natural gas consumption.

The intelligent (“Smart”) electrical grid will have microcomputers and electronic measurement control devices embedded throughout the transmission grid, spanning across America interconnecting every state, city and town, and every home, building and factory throughout the USA. Digital signals will flow through the electric lines transmitting information between the Electric company and the home or business electric meters—Smart Meters.

With this system in place, the price of electricity will change throughout the day, as demand increases and decreases. The home or business smart meter will recognize the price change, and send a signal to the household, business or factory appliances so the smart appliance can decide to respond by decreasing usage or shutting off to save money. How an individual appliance will respond would be pre-determined by a home or business electric monitoring management system. People will learn to use these new systems in the same way they learn to use any new software or digital device.


WARNING

Remember the electronic voting machines? They came at the American people like a drunk driver whose brakes went out. Far in advance of the first release of the electronic voting machines, Computer Science professors along with a legion of computer programmers began shouting — PAPER TRAIL — but their warnings fell on deaf political ears.

Pay attention to the political roll-out of the Smart Grid. It could be our worst nightmare. If the microcomputers and their control devices, along with the smart meters and smart appliances are allowed to accept remote software or firmware updates, meaning: if the various software components can be updated through the internet, like a home PC software download, then we will have a huge problem.

Downloaded software anywhere on the smart grid will open the entire system to the threat of computer viruses and worms!

The solution is simple: design the system to allow only solid-state software modules that require a lineman — a guy that climbs the pole and installs or replaces the module manually. The result will be a smart system that is immune to computer virus or worm attacks.

Today, the world is experiencing a global pandemic of internet identity theft and looting of personal and business bank accounts, rarely reported by the media. Such theft does not stop with financial exploits; the crisis includes theft of intellectual property and national security intrusions. Cyber crime is real, dangerous and expensive. Let's avoid building a system that allows viruses and spyware into the electrical grid and into our homes, businesses and factories.

Recommended reading:

Power Grid Worm is Just the BeginningStuxnet was the first worm to exploit a Microsoft Windows vulnerability and break through the power grid control system firewall. Earth2Tech

Stuxnet malware threat continues, targets control systems — SC MAGAZINE

CBS News — 60 Minutes:
“Could hackers get into the computer systems that run crucial elements of the world's infrastructure, such as the power grids, water works or even a nation's military arsenal?  Former Chief of National Intelligence says U.S. unprepared for Cyber Attacks...”
Cyber War: Sabotaging the System —Steve Kroft reports

Watch the 60 Minutes Video


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