Summary of The Grid

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9 Overall

9 Importance

8 Innovation

8 Style


Cultural anthropologist Gretchen Bakke explains that the United States leads the developed world in power outages due to the unreliability of its grid – the complex nationwide system of making and delivering electricity. Bakke describes the development of the flawed US grid and outlines its challenges. For example, she explains, since the power industry has no effective way to store electricity, its generation and consumption always occur simultaneously. You might wish Bakke had told you more about how America could improve the grid’s resiliency in the future, but she covers a lot of ground even so. getAbstract recommends her book to investors, policy makers and entrepreneurs who want to learn what is wrong with the US electrical infrastructure and why.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why the US power system is vulnerable to breakdowns,
  • Why electrical utility companies have few incentives to maintain the transmission infrastructure of “the grid” and
  • How solving the problem of storing electricity could transform the grid.

About the Author

Cultural anthropologist Gretchen Bakke, PhD, spent the first half of her career doing research on failing nations and the second half investigating failing infrastructure.



An Aging Grid
On August 14, 2003, the largest blackout in US history hit the Eastern side of the country, leaving eight states without power for two days. Inadequate investment in maintaining transmission wires preceded the blackout. An untrimmed tree near a high-voltage line disabled...

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