The U.S. power grid is essential to the nation’s economy. Yet disabling, sometimes devastating blackouts occur on an average of once every 13 days. Experts predict ever-increasing demands on the system will push it to the breaking point if it isn’t overhauled soon.

But this geographically vast and highly interdependent electrical infrastructure could face an even greater risk as a potential target of sabotage – including cyber attack – in an era of growing international terrorism.

In response to such concerns, President Barack Obama, the U.S. Department of Energy and others have endorsed creation of a “smart grid.” The president said in a recent speech that such a grid would “save us money, protect our power sources from blackout or attack, and deliver clean, alternative forms of energy to every corner of our nation.”

But what is a “smart grid” and how would it affect national competitiveness, the state’s economic viability and individual utility rates?

A panel of experts will offer their perspectives in a presentation entitled, “The smart grid: Powerful ideas for keeping us cool, connected and competitive,” at noon on March 26 at the Rainier Club, 820 Fourth Ave., in downtown Seattle. Luncheon registration is available ONLINE
@
www.theinnovators.wsu.edu or by calling 877-978-3868. Admission is $45.

The panel will feature:

 
* Anjan Bose, WSU Regents Professor and Distinguished Professor of Electric Power Engineering, has more than 35 years of experience in industry and academia as an engineer, educator and administrator. He is well known as a technical leader in the power-grid control industry, a researcher in electric-power engineering, an educator in engineering and an administrator in higher education.

Bose is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and has served on several NAE/National Research Council committees. He is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, Inc., and is active in several international professional societies. 

He was recipient of the Outstanding Power Engineering Educator Award (1994), the Third Millenium Medal (2000) and the Herman Halperin Electric Transmission and  Distribution Award (2006), from the IEEE. He has been recognized as a distinguished alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (2005) and the College of Engineering at Iowa State University (1993).

At WSU Bose holds the endowed Distinguished Professorship in Power Engineering and is the site director of the National Science Foundation-sponsored Power System Engineering Research Center.

* Mark Sidran is the former chair of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, a board he was appointed to in 2001. The UTC protects consumers by ensuring that utility and transportation services are fairly priced, available, reliable and safe. Gov. Christine Gregoire named him chair in 2005 and he retired from the board in early 2009.

Before coming to the commission, Sidran practiced law for nearly 30 years, including 10 as a deputy prosecutor and several years in private practice with an emphasis on civil litigation. Between 1990 and 2001 he was elected to three terms as Seattle city attorney.

Sidran is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Washington Law School.

* Randy Berry, managing director, AREVA T&D’s Network Management Solutions.

* Jeffery Dagle, chief electrical engineer, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

The program is part of WSU’s ongoing “Innovators” series of expert discussions of issues of importance to the state and the nation and is co-presented by the Washington Clean Technology Alliance and WSU.
 
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Grid at Risk