The Harvard Journal of Law & Technology recently released its Fall 2011 issue, now available online. Sonia K. McNeil, author of “Privacy and the Modern Grid” has written an abstract of her article for the Digest, presented below.
- The Digest Staff
JOLT Print Preview: Privacy and the Modern Grid
Sonia K. McNeil
The American electrical grid is in bad shape. Because of chronic underinvestment in research and development, a digital nation now relies on an infrastructure created before the invention of microprocessors that is beginning to show its age. Power quality problems and system disturbances cost the United States nearly $150 billion each year, regional blackouts aggravate and endanger millions of residents, and structural insecurities tempt hackers and terrorists around the globe.
To address these problems, the modern grid is being transformed from an outmoded, centralized network dominated by energy producers to a flexible, decentralized system that is more secure, more reliable, and better able to respond to and interact with consumers. The updated “smart grid” will permit “a two-way flow of electricity and information” in near-real time, creating an adaptive, interactive energy matrix. For consumers, the most visible part of the smart grid will be “smart meters,” advanced electrical meters that collect highly granular data on individual electricity consumption and allow users to monitor and remotely control their electrical use in response to fluctuating energy prices. At the level of an individual home, the goal is to use data to encourage consumers to conserve energy by showing them its cost as they consume it, rather than days or weeks later in an energy bill. System-wide, this information will be harnessed to spur economic growth, conserve the environment, increase electrical service reliability, strengthen national security, and develop derivative technologies. (more…)