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What Does the Green New Deal Mean for Grids?

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her progressive colleagues made headlines last Thursday with the much anticipated unveiling of the “Green New Deal”. As the name suggests, the non-binding resolution lays out a plan to have the nation’s economy running at  net zero carbon emissions by 2035. To that end, the latest New Deal calls for huge public investment in renewable energy production and grid modernization over the next decade. What’s more, raising some eyebrows, the group claimed their goals were obtainable without nuclear, which currently accounts for over half zero-carbon energy production.

While it’s unclear if the Green New Deal will have any direct consequences, symbolically it signals the start of a new era for Democrats. Although the party has long advocated green policy, it now seems to be a central issue. Four 2020 presidential candidates have already come out in support of the proposal, as well as Bernie Sanders, who has yet to announce his plans for the next election. Even if the plan is abandoned in its current form, the issue is not going anywhere. Real, national legislation is on the way, and even if it doesn't pass, it will push blue states to take action themselves.

So, what does this mean for the country’s grid systems? Well, it’s hard to say. In addition to being non-binding, the proposal is also pretty skimpy on details. It mentions making the grid decentralized and efficient, using battery storage and distributed systems of energy, and giving ratepayers more control. Green New Dealers also stress the importance of personal EVs and electric powered public transport. If either were to become the norm, there would need to be grids built to support them.

Whether the harbingers of this green tide realize it or not, serious carbon cutting promises serious grid up-grades.

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