The impact of Hurricane Sandy’s devastating blow last week to the East Coast, particularly in New Jersey and New York, is still being felt. Superstorm Sandy left at least 75 people dead, destroyed homes, created lines and rationing at gas stations, and churned through an estimated $50 billion in economic damage. Hundreds of thousands of people are still without power—and may remain in the dark for some time to come.
No electricity system would be impervious to a storm as massive as Sandy. But as my colleague Lena Hansen told Scott Tong of NPR’s Marketplace last week, a “dumb” grid has a hard time coming back online quickly and only exacerbates the costs and resources needed to restore power.
Our aging and inefficient electricity system consists of centralized power plants—many of which are nearing their lifespan—that will need to be almost entirely replaced by 2050. The question before us now is, “What kind of electricity system do we want?”
Do we really want incremental changes that will ensure it stays dumb and increasingly more vulnerable to (increasingly more common) freak weather events? Do we really want to keep using non-renewable resources such as coal, natural gas and nuclear energy to generate 85 percent of our electricity—which produces 40 percent of all U.S. CO2 emissions?
At RMI, we’re working to accelerate a transformation of our electricity system to one that is affordable, efficient, and distributed—and powered 80 percent by renewable energy.
Watch now, and learn:
- How the changes we make in the electricity system are the most important leverage point for shifting the U.S. economy as a whole
- How RMI is working with key stakeholders to co-develop new business models for integrating high levels of distributed renewables into the system
- Where transformational changes are already beginning to unfold
Our Reinventing Fire vision for a transformed electricity system depicts a new paradigm, one that doesn’t contribute to climate change. That won’t hurt our land and water systems. A system that is smart and resilient, where blackouts caused by weather don’t result in the kind of societal and economic hardship they do now.
The tragic destructiveness of weather events is hard enough on humanity. Let’s work together to make the burden just a bit easier by building a smarter, cleaner electricity system that can get the lights up more quickly, just when it’s needed most.