In the book called “The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future,” author Gretchen Bakke traces the history of the American power grid and examines its future, which is complicated by new technology and new challenges.

As an anthropology professor, Bakke’s perspective about the origins and development of the nation’s power grid contain several intriguing revelations. The book revolves around the theme of how the grid has become a symbol of American identity.

The author shows how the power grid grew from decentralized, individual power plants Edison installed in factories to become the sprawling, complicated coast-to-coast network of electricity. The book also discusses the dynamic nature of the current power electric grid – how a gust of wind coming over the Rockies can affect power supply in California or how a tree falling in Ohio can lead to a blackout on the East Coast.

This entertaining and deeply researched book also weaves the grid’s past into its current state and details the challenges of incorporating renewable energy into an increasingly outdated infrastructure. Throughout the 384-page book, Bakke brings humor and easy understandability to this complex topic while raising pressing questions about the future.

Listen to this interview to learn more.

the grid

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