We’ve all heard quite a bit of talk, speculation, argument and proposition regarding a solution to our country’s energy problems. Besides our desperate foreign oil dependence, the US also contributes a large portion of the greenhouse gases that pollute our planet- so clearly a solution is eminent. The beacon of hope has been placed on the shoulder’s of the futuristic ‘smart grid’ – an energy efficient and eco-friendly grid that can power our country and perhaps save our economy.
A host of naysayers have argued the feasibility of such a high-tech energy grid- a network that can seamlessly integrate renewable energy sources like solar and wind, can connect to major city centers from long distance, and can regulate itself intelligently depending on where energy needs to be allocated. ‘Smart Meters’ would need to be implemented in homes, apartments and business centers to provide constant feedback to the grid.
Despite the backlash to the initiative, president Obama’s administration has gone forward with allocating stimulus money towards constructing the smart grid. One of the historic first steps has been taken today as the city of Miami proposes leading the initiative with a $200 million project to create a smart grid within Florida. The smart grid, ‘Energy Smart Miami,’ will be built by network powerhouses Cisco Systems and General Electric, among several other companies wanting to get their feet wet with the new wave of green smart technologies.
Miami Mayor Diaz described the project (from energysmartmiami.com): “The Energy Smart Miami Initiative is an investment in the future of our city, our residents and our neighborhoods, and is an important step towards creating the green jobs of the future and building a clean energy economy. This initiative meets the Obama administration’s goal of investing in alternative and renewable energy, ending our addiction to foreign oil, addressing the global climate crisis and creating millions of new green jobs. I look forward to working with our partners in the private sector to create a model of putting the economic stimulus plan in action and breaking ground right away.”
The central focus of ‘Energy Smart Miami’ will be installing over 1 million smart meters to homes and business around Miami, which will provide instant energy usage feedback to Flordia Power and Light Company. These meters will also alow Miami’s citizens and business owners to better monitor and regulate their energy usage by providing up-to-date statistics.
Cisco Systems, the world’s leader in network hardware and technology, will contribute by creating the infrastructure and network for these systems . It will be the company’s task to create energy management data and controls for customers, as well as to implement the project’s security and communications technology. In other words, Cisco hardware will play an integral role in providing the backbone for the entire grid.
John Chambers, Cisco’s CEO, commented on the company’s role in creating the grid: “An intelligent energy infrastructure can accelerate American leadership, create jobs, help increase our standard of living and drive sustainable growth. Cisco believes that as the U.S. builds out a smart, secure energy grid for the 21st century, networking technology will serve as the platform and public-private partnerships will be key to the success. We are proud to be part of this important effort in Miami.”
If the city of Miami, Cisco and others can successfully take on the first of the smart grids, it will set a president for the rest of the country. It takes the US that much closer to the gargantuan task of transitioning into a enlightened age of energy conservation and environmental sustainability.