When honey bee populations began to drastically decline in 2006 from what came to be known as Colony Collapse Disorder, the response from the United States Department of Agriculture was swift. As research emerged on the causes, pesticides—specifically a new and widely used class of pesticides called neonicotinoids—quickly emerged as an identifiable culprit.
In North Dakota v. Heydinger, two Eighth Circuit judges disagreed about the constitutionality of a Minnesota statute regulating the electricity imported into the state. Their disagreement stemmed from the judges’ conflicting understandings of the behavior of electrons.
The U.S. electrical grid is a modern marvel, consisting of nearly 3500 utility organizations, 450,000 miles of transmission lines, and six million miles of distribution cable that span across and crisscross the country to serve over 334 million people (and growing) whose total electricity demand exceeds 830 gigawatts. But the grid is evolving, as it has since its inception.
Energy information and technology has reached a point where the operator of a twenty-first-century grid can balance supply and demand based on value, not cost. Better data, more distributed and dynamic resources, and improvements in supporting infrastructure represent an opportunity for an electric system to operate more reliably with less environmental impact and through competitive markets that yield economically efficient rates.