Why Is the U.S. Power Grid So Out of Date?
The U.S. power grid has gone strong for decades, but the time to retire it might be closer than people think. This outdated grid relies on fossil fuels for electricity. In recent decades, sustainable, renewable energy sources have become farmable, meaning the grid needs an upgrade for the benefit of the Earth and its people.
1. It's Outdated
The U.S. power grid is older than you might expect. It was built initially in the 1960s and 1970s, and most of it is over 25 years old. It's vulnerable to intense storms and runs on outdated energy that doesn't help the environment. Fossil fuels comprise about 80% of the world's energy supply. Other options are available, and the grid needs updating to shoulder the weight of a much higher population.
2. It's Inconvenient for Customers
When you have something that serves people nationwide, you want it to work well so customer satisfaction remains high. Everyone should have access to the power they desperately need in different climates. Since the U.S. power grid is so old, it can sometimes be unreliable. In 2021, the average customer experienced about seven hours of electrical interruptions, though the number would be lower if it didn't include major events like inclement weather.
Superstorms were far less common when the grid was first built. Due to the effects of climate change, storms have increased in the last few decades, posing a greater threat to the power grid and people's safety. Conversely, solar energy can be stored and used when the sun isn't shining. Turbines are a bit more challenging to handle, as certain wind speeds can force them to stop for a bit. However, they still seem to be sturdier than the traditional power grid.
3. It Costs More Money Than It Saves
Clean energy might cost more upfront to install or convert, but it's the better investment over a long-term period since it eventually pays for itself. However, switching to cleaner forms of energy isn't an option for everyone, even with a possible tax credit. In that case, people may switch to more energy-efficient appliances, which can cut their energy use by 50%. It could make a huge difference in a family's wallet and allow them to save for a cleaner option.
Despite the cost of renewable energy being around the same as the traditional power grid, only about 22% of the U.S. uses sustainable power. That number may seem like a lot until you remember that about the same amount of energy comes from nuclear sources. After making some potentially costly transitions, the U.S. can switch to a power grid that saves more money than it costs its customers.
4. There's a Higher Demand for Power
Despite only having 5% of the world's population, the United States takes up 17% of its energy, so demand is increasingly high. As the U.S. population continues to grow, so does the need for electricity. Cleaner power is also in demand. Many people are becoming aware of how fossil fuels and greenhouse gases affect the environment and wish to preserve the Earth however they can.
Environmental change isn't possible without a huge effort. The power grid would be more reliable and sustainable if cleaner energy could be adopted throughout the U.S. The current system will not always be able to meet the U.S.'s demands for power, so switching to cleaner energy might be a way to solve the issue.
5. It Relies on Fossil Fuels
The current U.S. power grid relies on fossil fuels to supply electricity to households and commercial buildings nationwide. The prevalence of global renewable energy rose by almost 8% over a decade, making it a fast-growing industry that can revolutionize the world. Wind and solar power are renewable and clean, releasing zero carbon into the atmosphere.
The current system can't say the same, as it releases carbon. A few obstacles are standing in the way of the large-scale adoption of a new type of power. Clean energy requires a new transmission grid entirely, making it difficult to see the short-term future. However, it's something this country and many others can aspire to in the long term.
A Better Power Grid Is the Future
Updates to the power grid are necessary to save lives and create a better quality of life that people in the United States deserve. Switching to renewable energy can benefit everyone nationwide and affect the environment far less. The current grid is unsustainable and outdated, with major issues that can be fixed by going green. In the future, the U.S. will see mass adoption of cleaner energy and a more reliable system for everyone.
Article by Jane Marsh
Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of