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The Aging Energy Infrastructure Challenge

May 27, 2015 By Josh Kessler

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz presented recommendations from the Quadrennial Energy Review to Congress on May 21, reported Forbes. Although Moniz noted that electricity consumption has been flat for the past 10 years, he discussed several challenges that the country will need to address in the coming years, including climate change, cyber and physical security, a changing energy mix, globalization, workforce, and infrastructure. Forbes focused particularly on infrastructure.

The majority of energy resources rely on pipelines, rail, boats, transmission and grid technologies. Nearly 60 percent of the country’s gas transmission was built before 1970, and much of this infrastructure will need to be upgraded or replaced. Meanwhile, wind and solar energy require additional transmission and advanced meter deployment.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported in April that 35.5 percent of US electric meters were smart meters at the end of 2013, a 5.8 percent-point increase in market share compared with 2012. Nevertheless, the country has a long way to go before it installs both the systems and software necessary to truly leverage this new technology.

Some states are ahead of others in deploying advanced meters. The Energy Collective reported that New York, which recently implemented a first-of-its-kind policy to promote advanced energy technologies, is far behind in promoting advanced meters. Just 1 percent of customers in New York have installed smart meters, which the article suggests will be necessary. EIA advanced meter deployment data from 2013 show that Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island – which in many ways have aggressive energy policies – each have smart meter penetration rates of less than 10 percent. In contrast, Maine, Nevada and the District of Columbia lead the country with over 90 percent penetration, while Georgia, California and Vermont are all over 80 percent.

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