I’m at that blissful point vis-a-vis "smart grids" where I know enough about them to think they’re bitchin’, but not enough to know why they’re never gonna happen. Whee!

So I was happy that eternal optimist Joel Makower flagged this report (PDF) from the Center for Smart Energy. (Who’s against smart energy, huh?)

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The report says there are boatloads of money — around $45 billion — waiting to be made by the folks who get to this stuff first. Whenever I hear a stat like that, I think, hm, are businessfolk in this industry just retarded? If there’s $45 billion on the table, why is no one grabbing it? What do the think-tankers and the pundits know that the business types don’t? Same think with peak oil — if oil’s going to cost $200 a gallon in 10 years or so, why does anyone who has any oil sell it? As opposed to, say, holding onto it for 10 years and raising their profits by some 150%. Maybe a reader can enlighten me.

Anyhoo, of particular interest are these seven key markers of smart grids:

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  1. Self-healing. A grid able to rapidly detect, analyze, respond and restore from perturbations.
  2. Empower and incorporate the consumer. The ability to incorporate consumer equipment and behavior in the design and operation of the grid.
  3. Tolerant of attack. A grid that mitigates and stands resilient to physical and cyber security attacks.
  4. Provides power quality needed by 21st century users. A grid that provides a quality of power consistent with consumer and industry needs.
  5. Accommodates a wide variety of generation options. A grid that accommodates a wide variety of local and regional generation technologies (including green power).
  6. Fully enables maturing electricity markets. Allows competitive markets for those who want them.
  7. Optimizes assets. A grid that uses IT and monitoring to continually optimize its capital assets while minimizing operations and maintenance costs.

This is, as the report notes, about as far from our current energy grid as you can get. I expect it will take several more blackouts, perhaps with a terrorist attack or two thrown in for good measure, to get Americans worked up about this stuff. I can hardly wait!