Smart Grid 101: how it works
Built in the 1890s, today’s current grid consists of more than 9,200 electric generating units with more than one million megawatts of generating capacity connected to more than 300,000 miles of transmission lines. And while the grid has improved over time with advances to technology, it is now stretching its patchwork nature to its capacity.
A Smart Grid incorporates digital technology for two-way communication between the utility and its customers. According to SmartGrid.gov, the grid works like the Internet and will consist of controls, computers, automation, and new technologies and equipment working together to respond digitally to our quickly changing electric demands.
The benefits associated with the Smart Grid are immense. They include more efficient transmission of electricity, quicker restoration of electricity after power disturbances, and reduced operations and management costs for utilities, and ultimately lower power costs for consumers.
In addition, Smart Grids will reduce peak demand, which will also help lower electricity rates, and increase integration of large-scale renewable energy system, including customer-owned power generation systems with improved security.