What's a Smart Grid?

February, 2009

There's been plenty of attention paid in recent weeks to the idea of rebuilding our nation's electric infrastructure using new technologies. Experts say it's time to transform our aging electric grid into a "smart grid". But what's SMART about it? Just what is a 'smart grid,' how would one work, and is the idea realistic?

The concept of a 'smart grid' covers a variety of technologies. Some are very local, such as appliances that can communicate with your power meter about the best time to run. Others focus on the creation of a microgrid, distributing locally-produced power to consumers. And at the largest-scale level, improving grid technologies would allow for more efficient and reliable operation of the electricity distribution system nationwide.