This article is from the In-Depth Report 10 Years after North America's Largest Blackout
60-Second Earth

Waste Not, Want Not: Energy via the Smart Grid

Simply using instead of losing energy, the U.S.--and the world--could power its way out of crisis. David Biello reports

[Below is the original script. But a few changes may have been made during the recording of this audio podcast.]

The economic stimulus package will probably end up including more than 15 billion dollars for improvements in energy efficiency like weatherizing homes and some 11 billion dollars to create a so-called smart grid.

But what the heck is a smart grid?

Simplifying drastically, it's bringing the benefits of the internet to our aging system of electrical wires, transformers, and meters

The idea is to reduce the electricity that gets lost in transit—some 7 percent of electricity gets lost that way—and to eliminate unnecessary fossil fuel burning by electric utilities.

But it's also about smarter meters that reveal exactly what is sucking up all that juice.  Like our computers or iPods that use energy even when turned off if plugged in.

Google and IBM have already started smart grid projects. The search engine giant has developed an energy tracking program while Big Blue is helping the island nation of Malta develop the world's first intelligent electrical system.

With some 26 billion taxpayer dollars up for grabs in the U.S. and billions more worldwide, that's not just better for the environment, it's smart business. Especially since Google and IBM's server farms are using up so much of that electricity in the first place…

—David Biello 60-Second Earth is a weekly podcast from Scientific American.

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