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U.S. has the power, but needs dollars, to upgrade energy networks

Technology can be a magnificent thing. Nearly every home in America contains at least one device that has taken away chores that once occupied the time of family members. In a world of finite resources, however, technology can do something even more valuable -- make power usage more efficient.

Already, the use of smart meters -- which use broadband Internet networks -- can allow utilities and residents to monitor usage and even turn devices on-and-off remotely. It can save consumers money and curb usage. The meters are an essential part of a movement to create a smart power grid. There is much to be gained from moving forward with such a network, the Council on Foreign Relations stated:

A “smart grid” system can increase reliability and reduce power outages. Special meters on houses and businesses and sensors along transmission lines can constantly monitor demand and supply, while mailbox-sized devices known as "synchrophasors" measure the flow of electricity through the grid in real time, allowing operators to foresee and avoid disruptions. Smart appliances can "talk" to the grid and shift electricity use to off-peak times, which eases the burden on the grid, lowering prices and helping to avoid blackouts. Decentralized "microgrids" can be paired with new battery technology to allow for power to continue flowing to local communities even when severe weather or other outages afflict the broader power system.

But the U.S. lags substantially behind other nations in taking advantage of such tech marvels. The reason? Lack of infrastructure to bring such innovation nationwide.

It's a continuing saga for this country these days. Whether it's energy, transportation or water, a lack of investment in infrastructure is undoing America's greatness. And if the U.S. wants to remain a world leaders, that's got to change.

Investing in infrastructure will create good jobs for everyday Americans. Working on energy, transportation and water projects will put thousands to work in construction jobs across the country. It will also improve this nation's essential networks, which in turn will help business and improve the U.S. economy.

If Congress gets America working on the nation's 21st century needs, it will provide a brighter future for our families.