According to the National Academy of Engineering, the electrification of America was the greatest engineering achievement of the 20th century.
Over the last 140 years, the US electrical grid has been cobbled together in a piecemeal, haphazard fashion. For example, today the system consists of:
- 3,000 public, private, and co-op utilities
- 1,000 independent power generators
- three regionally synchronized grids
- eight reliability councils
- 150 control-area operators
- thousands of local, state, and federal regulatory institutions
Between 1900 and the 1960's electric utilities faced steadily rising demand, friendly regulatory conditions, improving technologies, and economies of scale.
Electrical utilities make up one of America's oldest industries. However, new regulatory and environmental risks mean the industry must embrace renewable energy and smart grid technology to flourish and allow America to remain economically competitive during the coming century.