America’s electrical grid, an engineering triumph of the twentieth century, is turning out to be a poor fit for the present. It’s not just that the grid has grown old and is now in dire need of basic repair. Today, as we invest great hope in new energy sources — solar, wind, and other alternatives — the grid is what stands most firmly in the way of a brighter energy future.
In The Gird, cultural anthropologist Gretchen Bakke unveils the many facets of America’s energy infrastructure, its most dynamic moments and its most stable ones, and its essential role in personal and national life.
The grid, she argues, is an essentially American artifact, one which developed with us: A product of bold expansion, the occasional foolhardy vision, some genius technologies, and constant improvisation.
The Grid tells — entertainingly, perceptively — the story of what has been called “the largest machine in the world” and its fascinating history, its problematic present, and its potential role in a brighter, cleaner future.