Teaching an old grid new tricks
Increased investor interest in the improvement of power grids drives success
Five years ago, a small number of overgrown trees caused a blackout for a large section of the northeastern part of the U.S. The health of the nation’s electric grid has not improved much since then. Increasing demand for electricity is putting more pressure on an aging network. Deregulation of the utility industry has stymied investment in transmission lines.
According to Forbes a multitude of companies have invested large amounts of money in the grid but ignored the transmission line; the reason being that the potential to turn a profit from a network that is already in place is much greater than investing in a new one.
Optimal Technologies International commercially unveiled technology in May that could possibly eradicate blackouts. California’s grid operator has successfully tested the system although other results are still pending.
In March, Virginia based GridPoint and Xcel Energy combined with Duke Energy to test technology that could potentially lower the stress placed upon the grid by charging hybrid vehicles. Xcel Energy has since announced that it will be using the technology to build the first " Smart Grid City " in Boulder, Colo. It remains to be seen how enthusiastic local grids will be to embrace the new technology. However, with a steady source of investment from private companies and the government there is a better chance for improvement than before.
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Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.