The task of quantifying savings is almost, if not completely, impossible. The price tag of a new grid is elusive, and estimates that do exist can range from $100 billion to $2 trillion, explains Jenny Gold for NPR. The focus of the problem is that the grid is made up of many little parts, which would be built and managed by different sectors of the energy industry.
Each new system (such as power lines, smart technology and new sources of power) can add hundreds of billions of additional dollars to a total cost estimate. The bottom line is that the upgraded grid will be expensive and cost billions. Then there’s the specter of public opposition because of the costs being passed down to the consumer, as well as political loopholes.
But one step consumers can take is installing a digital smart meter in your home, which costs $250. As such meters catch on, it can give utilities a better idea of their consumers’ needs and help fund improvements.
The payoff down the line would less dependence on coal, and potential costs would be mitigated for the long term. Here is a grid to take a look at the nations’ systems as it stands today and visualize the potential for improvement. (You can click the other tabs on that map to see solar and wind capacity.)