Smart grid can help encourage smarter policies, suggests Cisneros at Siemens event
Real changes in U.S. energy use needs to be driven by "bottom-up innovation," rather than command and control systems, said Henry Cisneros, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and executive chairman of CityView, speaking at Siemens Smart Grid Tour in Oak Brook Terrace, IL (near Chicago). CityView funds and promotes projects dedicated to efficient land use, urban redevelopment, neighborhood revitalization, sustainability, and metropolitan economic opportunity.
Cisneros, prior San Antonio, TX, mayor and city council member before joining the Clinton administration, said that as HUD secretary, he traveled to more than 200 cities. He said he observed that local creativity often drives the most change, and that good programs should be replicated elsewhere, during his June 23, discussion at the Siemens event.
"Cities can be masters of own destinies. They can reorganize themselves," Cisneros said, admitting that the richest source of revenue for projects remains the federal government, since local taxes can be regressive. Federal money should be used wisely, and government debt reduction, he acknowledged, has to be a key priority, he said.
Cisneros U.S. energy-related advice included:
- Light and heavier rail projects will help move people and goods more efficiently, adding that Chicago railway delays are inhibiting productivity;
- Smart grid investments should be made to update 100-year-old electricity technologies, noting that a Microsoft data center can use more electricity than a Toyota automotive manufacturing plant;
- Lack of will to renovate electrical infrastructure will impede U.S. progress in competing with countries installing the latest technologies with new construction;
- Smart roads can help ensure more efficient traffic flow;
- A bottom-up needs inventory would help identify and prioritize what’s needed for the smart grid;
- Next generation of policy needs to incorporate more real-time energy pricing that reflects societal costs, and the market would reward the right technologies;
- Alternative energy sources and grid renovations will be growth areas; and
- U.S. educational systems need to lower the dropout rate and increase the number of engineers.
"We’re at an inflection point," he noted, and smart applications of technologies within private and public infrastructure can help with sustainable, just and equitable communities.