The current, industrial-age grid is simply not sufficient to power the server-dominated digital workplaces of the future. Without a significant upgrade now, future brownouts will become regular Third Worldly features of daily life in America. Peter Huber, a senior analyst at the Manhattan Institute, estimated that the U.S. could eliminate the need for 70 percent of imported foreign oil simply by electrifying its transportation and heating sectors. Installing new million-volt transmission lines would automatically boost the efficiency of existing power plants by 50 percent, Huber added, because it would allow them to operate round the clock instead of sitting idle half the time.
Covering the nation with 21,000 miles of new high-voltage lines would cost between $50 and $75 billion. Pocket change these days.