If you’re one of the unlucky holiday travelers stranded because of bad weather around the country, or stuck at home without power in Illinois, Massachusetts, Georgia, Ohio or Oregon, maybe you can take solace in this: Bad weather-induced power outages are a big motivator for utilities to build out their “smart grid” infrastructure. This winter, utilities are getting a chance to see just how good smart grid systems are at reporting outages and restoring service safely and cheaply. Energy Biz has a short item this morning about utilities storm preparedness; it names CenterPoint Energy (s cnp), in Texas, as a leader in deploying smart grid technology as part of its disaster-response program.
Climate change is going to mean more significant weather events, from hurricanes to snowstorms, and while other utilities pursue what EnergyBiz calls a “hardening approach” — clearing trees and brush from around powerlines and reinforcing delivery infrastructure — utilities that use the smart grid approach are able to spot outages more quickly and send out repair crews to the right spots, right away. Even better, the approach could play a role in minimizing climate change — and its stormy side effects — by making power delivery cleaner and more efficient.