by Patrick Appel
Brad Plumer uses Irene's powerline damage to advocate for a smart grid:
A recent study by the Electric Power Research Institute estimates that implementing smart-grid technology nationwide could cost, at the high end, $476 billion over 20 years. (The 2009 stimulus poured $4.5 billion into a handful of smart-grid pilot projects around the country.) Amin, for his part, calculates that doing so would reduce the cost of blackouts by at least $49 billion per year. A smart grid obviously can’t prevent all power outages, especially in a violent hurricane, but it can reduce the damage considerably.