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Investing in America’s Power Grid

January 21, 2009

Wall Street Journal
Letters to the Editor

Samuel Palmisano’s call for greater investment in America’s power grid (“Let’s Spend on Broadband and the Power Grid,” op-ed, Jan. 13) evokes the network effect of the investment from the Interstate highway system begun in the 1950s. Indeed, one of the least remarked aspects of that national investment begun a half century ago is how the U.S. realized benefits far exceeding those that my grandfather and other champions of the system first envisioned: an estimated $1 trillion in gross-product cost reductions; the enabling of “just in time” delivery for more efficient production and the creation of a genuine national market for super-efficient retailers, among others.

Overall, it has been estimated that each $1 invested in the system has returned more than $6 in productivity gains.

With the myriad demands on the public fisc presently, and as we contemplate investments in smart grids such as Mr. Palmisano suggests, it is reassuring that the economic gains from such investment will likely far exceed what we can now foresee — and that private capital, not government funding, is willing and able to make these investments.

Susan Eisenhower
The Eisenhower Institute
Washington

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