We take the reliability of our nation’s electric grid for granted – until it fails, and then we realize just how dependent we are on electricity. Our electric utilities spend billions of dollars each year to improve reliability – to make sure the lights always stay on. The question that GridSolar has posed is whether this money is being spent wisely.
Reliability requires redundancy – secondary and tertiary resources that can be called upon when one or more components of the electric grid fail. In Maine, CMP has committed to spend $1.5 billion to provide a third high voltage transmission path to ensure that electricity can be delivered to Maine when the other two paths fail. This third path, however, is not needed all of the time. In fact, it is needed very infrequently – a few hundred hours a year during the hottest afternoons in the summer months. This makes the per unit cost of the $1.5 billion extraordinarily high.
A third transmission path can bring electricity generated outside of Maine – in the rest of New England or Canada – into Maine to meet peak loads. But there is another approach – utilizing new generation resources constructed and located in Maine – that is much less costly, yet provides the same or better reliability.
The reliability problem in Maine is a direct result of high load conditions on the hottest hours of the year when air conditioning is operating at full blast. What creates this demand for electricity, of course, is the heat of the sun. If we can use that same sunlight to generate electricity close to where the air conditioning is being used, we do not need expensive transmission to bring electricity into Maine.
This is the GridSolar Concept – to develop electricity resources in Maine and a smart electric grid that can be called upon when loads on the grid are at their highest. These resources include solar electricity, but also include other distributed generation such as back-up and emergency generators, and energy conservation and demand response.
Through perseverance and considerable efforts at the Maine Public Utilities Commission and the support of environmental and consumer organizations in Maine, GridSolar has won the right to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of its concept by undertaking a Pilot Project in the Boothbay region of Maine.
We invite you to learn more about this Pilot Project as well as the GridSolar Concept by exploring this web site: