In 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged three billion dollars in U.S. stimulus funding to transform this old electric grid into a Smart Grid. Carl Imhoff is an electrical engineer with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. He told EarthSky that the U.S. electric grid hasn’t changed much in the past 50 years. And he spoke to us about the network of hundreds of thousands of miles of transmission lines that send electricity from power plants to consumers.
The revolution is underway now in getting broad communication sensing and controls pervasive throughout the entire grid system such that it’s a full two-way communication activity.
By that he means that your house will communicate with the electric company. For example, more consumers are seeing new meters, called smart meters, installed that allow instant communication between home and utility company.
A smart meter is just basically a two-way communication to the meter so that no one has to get in the truck who can read the meter. They can just read it from the central office. And if the consumer’s home loses power, they would be able to identify that immediately from the central office.
What’s more, Imhoff said, appliances used in one’s home are being developed to communicate remotely with the smart meter, so that, if you forget to turn off the heat or AC when you leave for work, the smart meter and appliances can be programmed to turn off and save money.