Pets and pet care are a big deal in America. Sweaters for dogs….need I say more?
At an April 2016 conference, EDM International President Andy Stewart pointed out the wide disparity between electric utility research spending and spending on national pet care.
According to 2015 data, US energy research spending totaled $5 billion. The same year we spent $60 billion on our pets.
The robustness of the US electrical grid is due, in large part, to many innovations that came into being because of research.
Some of my early industry memories as a transmission line engineer were the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) transmission tower/line research facility at Haslet, Texas. Visits to both Valmont Industries and Thomas & Betts pole fabrication plants typically included tours of their structure testing facilities.
As an EPRI member, staff meetings at my first utility included monthly updates on research projects. I recall hearing about one crazy idea – engineers were trying to develop an underground boring machine that they could directionally control.
And now, decades later, what utility does not benefit from the widespread use of directional boring technology?
The electric utility industry is undergoing fundamental changes. With these changes comes the increased need to innovate and create new technologies. Innovation is desperately needed for emission controls, smart grid, wind and solar generation, new generation nuclear, grid security and resiliency, system hardening applications, and energy efficiency, among many others.
As a nation, we naturally make choices about priorities and needs. They are important and ever-changing decisions. Yet, I suggest that the importance of continued improvement to the electrical grid merits more research spending than what it currently (pun intended) receives. We have the money, it’s just being spent on our pets.
Readers, what are your thoughts about the level of investment in electric utility research? Are we doing enough? Too little? About right? I’d be interested in your opinions.
Rover is not going to freeze without a sweater. Rover is a dog. Rover is covered with fur. Rover will be fine.