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News Link • Energy

Federal Study of Power Grid Might Disrupt The Nation's Clocks

• Rebecca Boyle via

Soon, when you sleep through your Monday morning alarm, it may be Uncle Sam’s fault. Federal officials are considering an experiment on the nation’s electrical grid that could interrupt the way your appliances tell time — from your bedside alarm to your automatic coffeemaker.

Once they’re programmed, electrically powered clocks tell time based on the rate of the electric current that feeds them, as an Associated Press story explains. Electrical utilities keep the current’s frequency stable in part to keep clocks precise, the AP says. But utilities could save energy and money by allowing for greater frequency variation, so the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is considering allowing the change.

Joe McClelland, head of electric reliability for FERC, wondered whether anyone really uses the grid to tell time.


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