Some projects are just too big to let the private sector handle them alone. Updating our aging one-way system of centralized power production to a smart grid is one of those projects. Left mostly to its own initiative, the energy industry has done very little in technology innovation during the past fifty years to make the grid more efficient and to accommodate distributed power production.
The need is so clear that even a group that supports limited government agrees that building a smart grid that conserves energy, integrates renewables, and diminishes peak power requires the guiding hand of the federal government.
The Lexington Institute has published a paper that neatly summarizes the smart grid challenges, and concludes that “Just as the grid of today required presidential initiative, the smart grid will take a high-level policy push, too.” The public policy research group, which says it “actively opposes the unnecessary intrusion of the federal government into the commerce and culture of the nation,” adds that “Smart grid will most likely require federal, state and local government incentives” and that “Policy action is worthwhile to move promising technologies closer to full adoption.”