Background and History of the US Power Grid

According to a 2010 estimate by the Department of Energy, the United States has approximately 125 million household consumers of electricity. Almost every person in the United States deals with electricity at some point during their daily routines.

The means by which electricity travels and is distributed to individuals is through the power grid.  While each state has their own energy supply and demand, the power grid was established to create power "highways" within each of the major sections to manage the flow of electrical power throughout regions. 

3 Major Interconnections or Power Grids in US
  • Eastern
  • Western
  • Texas or ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas)

  • Each interconnection transfers bulk, high-voltage electricity to power homes, businesses and almost anything that can be "plugged-in"
  • Supply and demand of electricity must constantly be balanced, otherwise, situations such blackouts/brownouts can occur  
  • Large interconnections or the grids have been established to provide widespread availability of electricity to users and to help control the flow of electricity throughout a region based on supply and demand
    • Reduction in risk due to abundant lines and redundancies throughout the system
    • Electricity is able to be directed to regions that are in high demand and diverted from others with less
The original pathways along the power grid were established in the early 20th century which were adequate at that time, however, three major areas of risk/potential crisis have been identified with the existing power grid:
  1. Aging Existing Infrastructure (overhead and underground transmission) 
  2. Exponential Growth of Energy Demand in Households and Businesses Coupled with a Decline in Available Resources
  3. Natural Disasters (Hurricanes, Severe Storms, Earthquakes, Tornadoes)