The televised blackout: A reminder of the need for grid modernization

The largest and possibly most expensive football game of the NFL season is fast approaching. With advertisers spending multi-millions on 30-second advertising spots and the final two teams preparing for their last battle of the season, the idea of a smarter grid is even more relevant today than ever before.

Lights out

In 2003, over 50 million people in the Northeast, from Detroit to Toronto experienced the most widespread blackout in history. Nine years later, it happened somewhere else.

Smart Grid Kick offHalftime arrives, Grammy-award winning singer Beyoncé owns the stage, the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens begin their pre-second
half warm-ups of the 2012 Super Bowl and unexpectedly, the lights go out. For 34 minutes spectators at home and in the New Orleans Super Dome sit in total darkness. Social media channels across the U.S. went wild. Advertisers took advantage of the unexpected delay while others speculated about its cause. One thing is certain; the blackout shed light on the increasing need for smart grid technologies.

With smart grid technologies, most blackouts are caught before they reach the consumer. By identifying potential outage threats, a smarter grid can assist the utilities to pinpoint the problems before they begin. So major outages, such as the 2011 Super Bowl, are avoided and power is uninterrupted.

Round up the largest flat screen they sell!

Today, the need for a smarter electrical grid still holds true in areas beyond blackout prevention. As football fans gear up for their Super Bowl parties with the stoves cooking and flat screens plugged in, the idea of power quality and the smart grid stands tall. The equipment used to make the Super Bowl parties successful takes a higher than normal voltage to operate. This, in turn, can cause damage to certain electrical equipment. There is good news with the smart grid however, with technologies such as digital meters, energy users can decrease the voltage necessary for devices such as flat screen plasma TVs. The decreased voltage will then ensure that the devices running in the home do not interfere with electronic equipment. That’s great news for all the party planners! Now, there is no worry about interference during the game.

This year during the Super Bowl festivities, think smart grid. Think about how upgrading the current, antiquated electrical grid can allow fans to view one of the biggest football games of the year without interruption. From blackouts to improved power quality, the smart grid can answer the growing consumer needs of today.

By Taylor Fraser | January 29, 2015

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