James Kelly, former Southern California Edison President of Regulatory Affairs, and strategic advisor to GRIDiant, ARES, and other start-ups, moderated “Smart Grid: Real or Hype?” at this year’s VerdeXchange conference. Featuring Mike Montoya, director of Grid Advancement at SCE, the panel addressed the features and challenges of the smarter grid needed to achieve the clean energy goals of twenty-first-century cities.
The smart grid is not yet a well-defined infrastructure. As Kelly notes, hundreds of technologies and innovations now constitute how the smart grid may be developing, but these are far from forming a cohesive whole. Energy transmission via the grid cannot simply be upgraded. Kelly remarks, "I like to say smarter grid because the assertion when you say 'smart grid' is that the existing grid must be dumb. Do you think the existing grid is dumb? I would assert for you... that the existing electric grid is the most complex single machine on earth, in terms of its interaction and scope." Thus, Kelly and Montoya explore how the rhetoric surrounding smart grid advancement may cloud the current status and trajectory of its development.
The transcription is part one of a series tackling the title question.