NEMA to storm victims: Be sure you rebuild smart

By Jesse Berst,

Perhaps it is obvious. But then again, our political leaders have not been known lately for their ability to do the obvious right thing. So I think it is good news that the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has issued a report urging policymakers to use storm reconstruction funds to modernize the grid.

“The core principal of any major reconstruction effort should be to rebuild smart,” said NEMA President and CEO Evan R. Gaddis.

He is so right. Governors in the Northeast have access to more than $50 billion in reconstruction funds recently allocated by Congress. They can use it to put in “traditional” gear and thereby return their regions to where they were in 1975. Or they can use that same money to put in “smart” gear and leapfrog their regions into this century. May I suggest that you download the NEMA paper and forward it to your state lawmakers?

“Increasingly severe weather, most recently Superstorm Sandy, coupled with an aging and overstressed electrical infrastructure is having a dramatic impact on the U.S. population. Sixteen states experienced outages during Sandy,” Gaddis said in a release announcing the NEMA report, Storm Reconstruction: Rebuild Smart. “The core principal of any major reconstruction effort should be to rebuild smart — ensuring that reconstruction funds maximize the deployment of technologies to mitigate future power outages, protect lives and property, and improve energy efficiency.”

Good examples of these technologies are self-healing smart grid solutions, according to NEMA, including:

  • Information and communications technologies such as smart meters and high-tech sensors to isolate problems and bypass them automatically
  • Microgrids and backup generators that use their own power sources and storage capabilities to support vital services
  • Wiring, cabling and electrical components that can stand up to high winds and flooding

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