A yearlong experiment with the nation's electric grid could mess up traffic lights, security systems and some computers -- and make plug-in clocks and appliances like programmable coffeemakers run up to 20 minutes fast."A lot of people are going to have things break and they're not going to know why," said Demetrios Matsakis, head of the time service department at the U.S. Naval Observatory, one of two official timekeeping agencies in the federal government.
Of course YOU live in Colorado where you probably have a nice strong ground-wave time/frequency reference from WWV et.al. :-)
I don't think it's time to panic yet.
I haven't any idea whether the alarm clock in the bedroom uses line frequency. Not sure there's any way to find out either. Not sure whether this is a nudge to get me to play with building an Arduino alarm clock. It'd be fun though.
I've been tempted to drop in at NIST and ask them what time it is.
If it has an internal battery and when when losing power comes back with correct time it's using an internal crystal timebase. If it comes back flashing 12s then it's using line clock reference.
It isn't clear (at least they didn't go into any detail) WHY maintaining the mains frequency is more costly than letting it drift. When you are feeding power into the grid you have no choice but to do it synchronously or else blow yourself up.
This requires a impressive amount of power to do that is wasted on just slightly changing grid frequency. If they could do this left often == savings.