Remember a few years ago when the utility companies sent meter readers from home to home to read and jot down energy usage? Not too long ago technology changed and a new process, the automatic meter reading, allowed meters to send a signal to a utility truck that drove through neighborhoods collecting the data.

Sounds smart, right? But it gets even better. We’re now seeing an advanced metering infrastructure able to send data to the billing department at your utility company and then back home to you, the consumer.

As this article explains, it’s just one of many ways the new Smart Grid systems are evolving our electricity. Read on:

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The “smart grid” is a rapidly growing set of technologies, processes, devices and applications that affect and enhance the traditional electric grid. These advances are partially driven by exponentially growing demands worldwide for energy as expressed in a commonly repeated statistic that “global electricity demand is expected to increase 75% by 2030.” What’s happening with the smart grid also reflects developments made in communications, from Internet to cellular to wireless, as well as higher expectations from consumers regarding energy availability, rising energy costs and access to their energy information. A smarter grid will also help integrate renewable energy including wind and solar into the energy mix.

To understand the smart grid, you first need to get familiar with the 125-year-old electric grid. Most people don’t think about where the electricity they’re using comes from or how it gets to their homes and offices. The electric grid consists of several main touchpoints in an overall system that gets electricity from creation to the end user:

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